Hymenoptera is the third-largest order of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants. Over 150,000 species are recognized, with many more remaining to be described. The name refers to the wings of the insects, but the original derivation is ambiguous. All references agree that the derivation involves the Ancient Greek πτερόν (pteron) for wing. The Ancient Greek ὑμήν (hymen) for membrane provides a plausible etymology for the term because these insects have membranous wings. However, a key characteristic of this order is that the hind wings are connected to the fore wings by a series of hooks. Thus, another plausible etymology involves Hymen, the Ancient Greek god of marriage, as these insects have "married wings" in flight.
Females typically have a special ovipositor for inserting eggs into hosts or otherwise inaccessible places. The ovipositor is often modified into a stinger. The young develop through holometabolism (complete metamorphosis)—that is, they have a worm-like larval stage and an inactive pupal stage before they mature.