Metopiinae is a medium-sized subfamily of ichneumon flies. It has a worldwide distribution, with more than 850 known species and 28 genera (plus 5 new ones not yet described). In Germany, 90 species in 14 genera have been recorded.
Metopiinae can be small or large, with forewing length ranging from 3 to 11 mm. Some species of the genera Metopius and Colpotrochia can reach 2 cm in length and have a conspicuous warning coloration.
Characteristic is the mostly clearly convex face, whereby the clypeus is not separated from the face by a furrow. Between the antennae is a small elevation. The wasps have a stout, cylindrical body and strong legs. The pronotum is concave laterally and rounded posteriorly. The ovipositor is short and barely projects beyond the end of the abdomen. The thigh ring (trochanter) and femur of the forelegs and midlegs are often connected.
Metopiinae are endoparasitic parasitoids that primarily infest butterflies. The hosts can move further before they are killed. Usually, free-living caterpillars are stung, or caterpillars that live in leaf rolls. The wasps then hatch from the butterfly pupae by cutting open the front end of the pupa like a lid.
Some species, for example the small species of the genus Exochus and the large brightly coloured species of the North American genus Colpotrochia produce a penetrating odour when caught, which is probably a defensive behaviour.
The Metopiinae are monophyletic, belonging to the Ophioniformes family. According to a recent study, they are the sister group of the Tryphoninae, Mesochorinae and Ctenopelmatinae.
There are some genera that are not monophyletic. Whether the genera Bremiella, Ischyrocnemis and Lapton are rightly placed in this subfamily is not clear.
The two genera Exochus and Metopius (nearly 60 species) are distributed worldwide, and species-rich. More than 290 species of Exochus have been described and many more in the Neotropics await description.
Genera that have been recorded in Germany. Number of species in Germany in parentheses.
- Apolophus (1)
- Carria (1)
- Chorinaeus (11)
- Colpotrochia (1)
- Drepanoctonus (1)
- Exochus (37)
- Hypsicera (3)
- Chyrocnemis (1)
- Lapton (1)
- Metopius (13)
- Periope (3)
- Spudaeus (1)
- Triclistus (14)
- Tieces (2)
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