Sunday 18 September 2011

The hoverfly nightmare

Yesterday morning I found this Ectemnius wasp on a plant pot. Usually, they are very active and are flighty, but this one was still cold and let me take some close ups. Ectemnius are digger wasps that hunt flies - including hoverflies - for their larvae to feed. They dig a tunnel in wood and stock cells with flies, laying their eggs in them. They are several similar species, that can only be distinguished under the microscope. The microscope, however, is not needed to appreciate two of the weapons that these wasps use for hunting: their amazing, large, envolving eyes - note the antennae nicely folded between them, not occluding their field of vision, and their fearsome jaws, folded under their head.

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