Sunday, 28 March 2010

All About Thread-Waisted Wasps

It truly is a world of fascination when it comes to the insect world.  Insects are the most numerous and successful species on earth, and the life-cycles and habits of some insects are really amazing. In this fascinating and informative Hub, Bard of Ely tells us all about sand or thread-waisted wasps.

The Bard has been trying to encourage Monarch butterflies into his garden on Tenerife, and he believes that the predatory sand wasp is one of the reasons they are not arriving.  The sand wasp is a large insect that is native to Tenerife.  They are members of the crabonid wasps group known as Bembicini, and are commonly striped black and yellow, but there are some specimens that are black and white with green eyes.

They are predatory insects and the caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly are one of their very favourite meals. A female sand wasp searches for these caterpillars to feed her young and stings them in order to stun them.  The caterpillars are then carried off to be placed in a burrow that the wasp has dug in the sandy soil and sealed in along with a sand wasp egg. These burrows are generally only very short, simple affairs with a bigger space excavated at the end for the larva to grow and feed in. The egg then hatches and uses the helpless caterpillar as a source of nourishment as it grows and develops.

The female sand wasps sometimes choose to dig their nesting burrows close together if they find an area where the ground is especially suitable for their needs, creating a large clusters of these insects.  This inevitably leads to parasites of the thread-waisted wasps, such as cleptoparasites, also being attracted to the area, and the opportunistic sand wasps are not above preying on their own parasites, which is not that common in the insect kingdom.

To find out more read the whole of the Hub on sand wasps or thread-waisted wasps

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