Finnish Museum of Natural History

Cuckoo wasps of Finland: fauna, population trends and conservation

Cuckoo wasps (Hymenoptera: Chrysididae) are colorful, metallic-like aculeate wasps, which parasitize other insects, such as solitary wasps of the families Vespidae and Crabronidae. There are more than 3000 species of cuckoo wasps in the world of which about 50 have been found from Finland. Despite their attractive appearance, cuckoo wasps are still rather poorly known and there is much ambiguity considering their taxonomy, distribution and biology.

DNA barcoding of cuckoo wasps revealed Elampus foveatus as new to Finland. Earlier it had been mixed with the closely related species Elampus panzeri, which is very similar in appearance. Until recently, Elampus foveatus was known only from Central Europe. Photo: Pekka Malinen. Holopyga metallica is one of the rarest cuckoo wasps of Finland. It has been found only in coastal sand dune areas, where the digger wasp Dryudella stigma serves as its host. Outside Finland it is known from only a couple localities in adjacent areas of Russia. Photo: Pekka Malinen.

Majority of cuckoo wasps live in forested or agricultural biotopes, especially in warm forest edges with a lot of dead wood for their hosts to nest. Log houses and other wooden constructions such as wood poles are also typical habitats for them. Several species are considered threatened due to habitat loss, for example, almost half of the assessed cuckoo wasps were included in the 2010 Red List of Finnish Species.

The main aim of this project is to increase knowledge on Finnish cuckoo wasps both in the form of a doctoral dissertation and as a popular identification book. More specifically, we aim to prepare distribution maps and assess population trends of Finnish cuckoo wasps, investigate their taxonomy, and study their biology and conservation. We will also define genetic barcodes for all Finnish species.

Further information

Juho Paukkunen, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 19128644, juho.paukkunen(at)

Pekka Vilkamaa, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 19128834, pekka.vilkamaa(at)

Person in charge of the page: 
Juho Paukkunen