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Braconid - Braconidae
Braconid - Braconidae

The braconids (Braconidae) form a family in the order hymenopterans (Hymenoptera), the suborder Apocrita, the section Terebrantia and the superfamily Ichneumonoidea. Approximately 12,000 species of braconids have been classified worldwide and about 1100 of these were found in the British Islands. It is thought that there are as many as 40,000 - 50,000 species of broconids in total.
The family is divided into 45 subfamilies: Adeliinae, Agathidinae, Alysiinae, Amicrocentrinae, Aphidiinae, Apozyginae, Betylobraconinae, Blacinae, Braconinae, Cardiochilinae, Cenocoeliinae, Cheloninae, Dirrhopinae, Doryctinae, Ecnomiinae, Euphorinae, Exothecinae, Gnamptodontinae, Helconinae, Histeromerinae, Homolobinae, Hormiinae, Khoikhoiinae, Ichneutinae, Macrocentrinae, Masoninae, Mendesellinae, Mesostoinae, Meterorideinae, Meteorinae, Microgastrinae, Microtypinae, Miracinae, Neoneurinae, Opiinae, Orgilinae, Pselaphaninae, Rhyssalinae, Rogadinae, Sigalphinae, Telengaiinae, Trachypetinae, Vaepellinae, Ypsistocerinae and Xiphozelinae.

These subfamilies are divided into about 1,000 genera, which includes: Ademon, Aphanta, Asobara, Bracon, Cenocoelius, Chaenusa, Chorebidea, Chorebidella, Chorebus, Cotesia, Dacnusa, Microgaster, Opius, Parapanteles, Phaenocarpa and Psenobolus.
Their antennae have 16 segments or more and do not bend. The venation of the wings is very diverse. An important criterion for identification is the absence of a particular vein on the front wings. The trochantersof the hind legs comprise 2 segments. Female braconids have very long ovipositors, which can differ in length even within a species. The great length of the ovipositor, up to fourteen times the actual body length, is required for egg laying, which is often done by boring holes through leaves into the interior of caterpillars, which can have long spines or bristles for protection. An important characteristic of braconids is the rigid connection of their 2nd and 3rd abdominal segments.
The lifestyle of the braconids varies greatly. They represent an important environmental regulator and are suitable for biological pest control. The majority of species lay their eggs in the eggs, larvae or pupae of other insects. Some species of the subfamilies Mesostoinae and Doryctinae are therefore well known for depositing their eggs in plant leaves (they lay their eggs in bile).
The larvae of the braconids can often be difficult to identify. Some mature larvae can only be distinguished by their pharyngeal skeleton.

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Photography with Cameras
Nikon D3x, Nikon D300, Canon 50D
Image editing with Photoshop
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