Braconidae : Aphidiinae

Braconidae : Aphidiinae

Superfamily: Ichneumonoidea

Family: Braconidae

The Braconidae family is one of the largest families of Hymenoptera with 40 000 species in the world and over 30 subfamilies, all parasitoids of wide range of orders of insects (numerous Coleoptera and Lepidoptera). Some subfamilies are highly specialized like the Opiinae, which live only on Diptera or Aphidiinae, whose only hosts are aphids.


Identification of Braconidae is difficult. They are very close to Ichneumonidae. They can be distinguished by the absence of the second recurrent vein on the forewing:

Their size varies from 1-10 mm (2-27 mm for the Ichneumonidae).

Their ovipositor is generally visible but sometimes unobtrusive (as in Aphidiinae). Most spend their lives as primary parasitoids.

They can be idiobont ectoparasitoids or koinobiot endoparasitoids (like the Aphidiinae).

Subfamily : Aphidiinae


Aphidius microlophii
characteristic egg-laying position

Aphidius avenae

Ephedrus plagiator

The Aphidiinae are small Hymenoptera of a few mm long (2-3.5 mm). The coloration of adults ranges from black to brown, also more or less orangey yellow. These are solitary endoparasitoids of aphids.

They can be distinguished from other Braconidae by the distinguished wing venation and an articulation between the second and third abdominal tergite allowing a characteristic egg-laying position.The ovipositor is generally short and only weakly visible compared with other Braconidae.
The number of antennal segments rarely exceeds 20. (Here, the antenna of Aphidius ervi with 17 segments)

This subfamily comprises about 27 genera and 120 species in Europe.
The genus Aphidius is most frequently represented. The two species Aphidius colemani and A. ervi are used in biological control.

Wing venation

Complete venation

Veins  pt : pterostigma 1-R1 : metacarpus     SR1 : radial   3-SR : radial   r : radial  2-SR : inter-radial    r-m :inter-radial  1-SR+M : Sector radialis+medial  3-M : medial   m-cu : jntermediary or recurrent 

Cells 1 : marginal  2 : submarginal  3 : submarginal a  4 : submarginal b  5 : discal  6 : sub-basal  7: subdiscal

The Aphidiinae show a reduced venation except the genus Ephedrus where it is complete. The figure above sets out the different veins and cells referred to in the description of the different genera and species of this subfamily.

Tergite I

This corresponds to the first abdominal segment which is the narrowest part of abdomen (wasp-waste).

In the genus Aphidius, three types of lateral feature can be discerned: see photo below.

rough aspect

broad streaks (2-6)

fine streaks (8-15)

Modification date : 07 February 2023 | Publication date : 21 February 2011 | Redactor : Evelyne Turpeau, Maurice Hullé, Bernard Chaubet