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TaxonWorks Universal Chalcidoidea Database

Chalcidoidea (jewel wasps) are among the most species rich, ecologically important, and biologically diverse groups of terrestrial organisms. Their diversity is staggering with 27,859 described species and 2,188 genera. However, more than 500,000 species are thought to exist. These minute wasps (mostly 1–2 mm in size) are numerically abundant and common in almost every habitat. The smallest of these wasps are smaller than a typical single-celled organism (much smaller than the dot at the end of this sentence), and yet the adults can fly, mate, locate their hosts, deposit their eggs, and as larvae, consume their insect hosts. Most chalcidoid wasps are parasitoids; they feed on their insect hosts, eventually killing them. A few groups have also evolved to attack plant hosts and some serve as pollinators. Species attack all life stages from eggs to adults, and live and feed either internally or externally. Some are parasitoids of other parasitoids and some may even feed on their own species. Because they kill other insects, these wasps are extremely important for the control of pests of agricultural and forest crops, as well as vectors of human disease and veterinary pests. The economic importance of these wasps in pest management is unparalleled. They are widely used in biological control programs against major pests, with outcomes documented to result in decreases in pesticide, increases in yield, and in landmark cases direct savings of billions of dollars or permanent pest control. The evolutionary events leading to this enormous diversity in morphology, biology and rates of diversification are poorly understood, leading to an artificial system of taxonomic classification.

The TW Universal Chalcidoidea Database currently contains original citations for all 31,000 taxonomic names made available within the Chalcidoidea. It also includes a comprehensive list of the various generic combinations and misspellings that have been used in the literature. Nearly 50,000 different combinations and spellings are recorded. All names are supported by a citation of the published source from where they were obtained as are all taxonomic and nomenclatural acts noted within the database. Also included are over 120,000 host/associate records (including associations with food plants of the hosts) and more than 140,000 distribution records. See a brief overview of the live stats here.

Origin of the data: Noyes, J.S. 2019. Universal Chalcidoidea Database. World Wide Web electronic publication.

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