Species-Ampulex compressa

Domain - Eukaryote-

Eukaryotes contain true nuclei with linear chromosomes and membrane bound organelles. In addition, Eukaryotes have the ability to reproduce sexually.

Kingdom - Animalia-

Animals do not have cell walls, which require another form of structure such as a hyrdroskeleton, exoskeleton or endoskeleton. However, the lack of a cell wall allows animals for motility in animals. Animals also do not have a multicellular haploid stage in their lifecycle (no alternation of generations).

Phylum - Arthropoda-

Arthropods are by far the biggest and most diverse animal phylum and can be defined by their segmented bodies, joined chitinous exoskeleton, head and trunk region and compound eyes. Arthropods are also ecdysozoans meaning they shed their exoskeleton in order to grow through a process known as molting.

Class - Insecta-

Insects are classified as having a defined head, thorax and abdomen. Their mobility comes from 3 pairs of legs and the majority of species have either 1 or 2 pair of wings. Reproduction in insects can be sexual with separate sexes (dioecious) or asexual. Another organism that fits into this class is the embossed stonefly (Paragnetina media).

Order - Hymenoptera-

The hymenoptera undergo metamorphosis over the course of their life cycle which includes an egg, larva, pupa, and adult stage. Hymenoptera can physically be defined by their wings with cross-veins, antennae with generally at least ten segments (usually 13 in males and 12 in females), ovipositor (structure at the posterior end of the abdomen designed to place or inject eggs) in females and specialized mouthparts for chewing (Barlett, 2004). Two other organisms that belong to this order include the black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) and the European honey bee (Apis mellifera).

Family - Ampulicidae -  

Ampulicidae are known as the “cockroach wasps”, meaning they reproduce using cockroaches as food for their larvae. In addition, the Ampulicidae have granulose bodies that lack setae, mandibles with 4-5 teeth, palps (organs for sensing the environment in insects) and distinct parietal bands (Fox, et al., 2006, abstract).

Genus – Ampulex

The genus Ampulex is distinctive from other Ampulicidae because of a few defining features: a deep center channel above the salivary lips, five sensilla in the subgenal (below “cheek”) region and a lack of spines on what is known as the spiracular peritreme (small opening that serves as the insect’s windpipe surrounded by integument) (Fox, et al., 2006, abstract).

Species - Ampulex compressa

Ampulex compressa, Spanish for emerald cockroach wasp, is defined by its metallic bluish-green color. This particular wasp has wings with black veins that lie flat when folded, a wide abdomen with a short connection to the thorax and orange thighs on the two sets of hind legs.


Taxonomy of Ampulex compressaTo the right is a cladistic phylogenetic tree depicting Ampulex compressa’s complete classification based on morphology. Although the differences between genus and species become very specific, there are still distinguishable characteristics that separate the emerald cockroach wasp from its relatives.

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

A. compressa

Shown in the cladistic phylogenetic tree to the right are two of Ampulex compressa’s closest relatives based on morphology: Ampulex canaliculata and Ampulex ferruginea. Both are members of the “cockroach wasp family” (Ampulicidae) meaning they are parasitoid wasps that rely on the American cockroach as a host for their offspring. Both of these species are significantly smaller than Ampulex compressa and are much duller in coloring compared to the emerald cockroach wasp’s metallic blue-green exoskeleton. Additionally, while Ampulex compressa thrives in many different world regions, Ampulex canaliculata lives primarily in the Eastern U.S., Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas and Ampulex ferruginea has only been reported in Texas and Florida (Eaton 2011).

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