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Cuckoo Wasp (Chrysis spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Cuckoo Wasp.

 Updated: 2/26/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The bright, metallic shades of Cuckoo Wasps make these little jewels easy to spot despite their small stature.



Cuckoo Wasps get their name thanks to their parenting strategy. Similar to the Cuckoo bird, Cuckoo Wasps lay their eggs in the nests of other bees. When a Cuckoo Wasp larva hatches, it eats the other bee larvae and then consumes the stores of food left in the nest. Because of this behavior, the Cuckoo Wasp is a parasite to a variety of other bee and wasp species. Even the eggs of Walkingsticks are not off limits.

The adult Cuckoo Wasp may be an emerald, gold, or garnet color, and has black eyes, wings, and legs. It is tiny compared to other bees, but its dimpled, shimmering body is bright enough to attract attention. Adults drink flower nectar and have very small stingers. They tend to curl up when threatened if they are unable to escape. They are active during the summer and can be found in a wide variety of habitats and natural areas, but are often seen visiting flowers.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Acari
        Family: Chrysididae
          Genus: Chrysis
            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Chrysis spp.
Other Name(s): Gold Wasps
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 5mm to 8mm (0.20in to 0.31in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green, black, blue, gold, red
Descriptors: flying, stinging, metallic, gold, emerald, bumpy, shiny, bee
Territorial Map
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of both a bee and an ant insect
1
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
2
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
3
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
4
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
5
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.