RUBY-TAILED WASP or CUCKOO WASP (Ancistrocerus antilope) ©John Hallman
- Ruby-Tailed Wasps are often seen running over walls, banks and tree trunks in search of the nests of the insects (usually other wasps and bees) that they parasitize.
- The female Ruby-Tailed Wasp searches for nests of other solitary insects – in the case of Chrysis ignita, mason bees – in which eggs have already been laid. The Ruby-Tailed Wasp then lays her eggs in the same nest.
- When the Ruby-Tailed Wasp larvae hatch, they eat the mason bee larvae and complete their development.
- Ruby-tailed wasps are often called Cuckoo Wasps because. like the bird, they lay their eggs in the nests of other insects, usually other wasp and bee species.
- Ruby-Tailed Wasps have a very hard body cuticle that protects them from the stings of the host species if they are discovered in the act of laying their eggs in the host’s nest.
- They can roll up into a ball for extra protection.
- In the family Hymenoptera which contains conspicuous insects such as hornets, honeybees, bumblebees, common wasps and wood ants. There are, however, over 6500 different species of hymenopteran insects in Britain and a large number of these are solitary in behaviour, unlike the more conspicuous social species that build communal nests. The solitary wasps include a group known as Ruby-Tailed Wasps.
Fact Source: www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk/resources/1721_0_buzz_rubywasp_06.pdf
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