Adult Hymenoptera are winged or wingless insects. Winged members have two pairs of membranous wings with relatively few veins. Mouthparts are formed for chewing or modified like in honey bees for both chewing and sucking. Sawflies and horntails have wide waists but most Hymenoptera like bees, ants, and wasps have the body constricted greatly between the abdomen and thorax. Metamorphosis is complete. They can be microscopic to over 1 inch long. Immature stages have chewing mouthparts and are maggot-like for ants, bees and wasps.
They have a more or less well developed head capsule. Legs are present in some forms like sawflies which resemble caterpillars and even have prolegs (without crochets). Many Hymenoptera are colonial and are fed by members of the colony.
Habits of these insects are varied: some are predaceous; some are parasitic; some cause plant galls; and some feed on plant foliage. Sawfly larvae feed on foliage. Horntail larvae feed in wood like borers. Others, such as bumble bees and honey bees live on plant pollen and nectar. This order includes some of our most harmful, as well as some of our most beneficial insects. The abdomen in the females ends in an ovipositor which may be modified into a stinger or a saw-like organ. Many Hymenoptera have a painful sting and should be avoided if possible.
See Hymenoptera for individual listings.