Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Key to Hymenoptera in New Zealand

Hymenoptera key banner

Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, ants and bees) are one of the most morphologically and ecologically diverse insect orders worldwide.

Hymenoptera are one of the four mega-diverse insect orders, with over 100 000 described species, and are extremely beneficial to humans - as pollinators and natural biological control agents (reducing the populations of pest insects). However, the New Zealand hymenopteran fauna is extremely poorly known. Currently there are around 900 described species in 47 families. However, the true number of hymenopteran species in New Zealand could be in excess of 3000.

Our aim for the key is to provide a relatively basic guide to the family-level identification of Hymenoptera families in New Zealand. Currently, the guide is limited to taxa that are WINGED. The guide is not (yet) designed to identify wingless taxa.

Ultimately we hope to promote the greater use of Hymenoptera in biodiversity and conservation programmes in New Zealand by developing user-friendly identification guides.




This identification guide to the families of New Zealand Hymenoptera was created using Lucid Phoenix, which works as an interactive dichotomous key. Many images were modified from originals created by Birgit Rhode, Des Helmore, and John Noyes (BMNH) for the publications of Noyes & Valentine (1989) and Donovan (2007).

System requirements

Lucid logo

This key will run on most browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, IE and Microsoft Edge.

Although this key is not optimised for portable devices, it displays OK on tablets.

Future developements

Future versions will have the entities (hymenopteran families) hyperlinked, which will then navigate to the page of information/factsheets about them. We also hope to link this key to other keys for the identification of Hymenoptera at lower taxonomic levels (i.e. subfamilies, genera).

Comments are welcome; please email the Key Contact.


The publication can be cited as: Ward DF, Early JW 2010. Guide to the family-level identification of Hymenoptera in New Zealand v1.0. Online LUCID Phoenix key.


This work has been funded by a number of grants, including: the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology through backbone funding of the 'Defining New Zealand’s Land Biota' programme; Invasive ant and wasp programme (FRST C09X0507) and Landcare Research capability funding.