What is the kind of this wasp killing spider from UK?

What is the kind of this wasp killing spider from UK?

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I heard a wasp buzzing rigorously and when I looked at it, it was caught in a spider web. The spider was on top of the wasp. After some time, they become silent. When I exhaled gently on them, spider moved but wasp did not. Later, the wasp was dead. The spider was obviously smaller than the wasp, yet it emerged victorious.

I attached a photo of the spider. While I am not sure whether this is the one killing the wasp, this certainly lives around the event site.

It should be around 1 cm in body length, excluding the legs. It is situated in UK.

Hanging upside-down in a web suggests one of several groups, but in a building structure, and in what appears to be a messy, tangled web, I think we can safely put this one down as a member of the 'cobweb spiders' - the Theridiidae. This group includes the infamous Black Widows, and some are known to successfully take relatively large and dangerous prey. So, your particular spider has an obvious clue - the somewhat flattened dark abdomen with a large, light-colored patch in the middle of it. The shape suggests Steatoda, and there is only one spider that this could be: Steatoda nobilis, one of several spiders that frequently get called "False Widows". Here are two links and a representative photo:

Oh, I should add that despite the breathless hype the tabloids like to get up to, these spiders are known to be pretty harmless to people. On rare occasions, a bite (which is not easy to get from these shy spiders) may produce symptoms like a mild Widow bite, but the discomfort seems to pass within a day or so.

Tree bumblebee: 'Record sightings' for invasive bee

Tree bumblebees first arrived from continental Europe about 13 years ago, but they have now been seen throughout England, Wales and southern Scotland.

Scientists say it is not yet clear whether their spread is a bonus for the UK's native bumblebees or whether they pose a threat.

It is not clear how the bees found their way to the UK.

It is thought they may have blown across the English Channel or they could have arrived in soil in imported plants.

The tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum), which is fuzzy, with a ginger head, black body and white tail, is easy to spot. And unusually for a bee, it nests in tree hollows or bird boxes.

It was first spotted in the New Forest in 2001, but it is spreading at a rate of about 12,000 sq km (4,500 sq miles) each year.

Stuart Roberts, who is chair of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS), which works with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said the organisation had received a record number of sightings in 2013 and 2014.

"The colonisation and spread of this beautiful bee has been extremely rapid," he said.

The bees have now been found about 20 miles to the north of Glasgow in Scotland, he added.

New research also suggests that the tree bumblebee may be particularly hardy.

A study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology found that the insects are resistant to some nematode worm parasites that can kill off native bumblebees.

The jury is still out, however, as to the wider impact of the bee's arrival.

Prof Mark Brown, a biologist from Royal Holloway, University of London, said: "It could be that these bees are providing additional pollination services - pollinating garden plants, plants in the countryside, or crops.

"It could also be that it is simply filling an empty niche in our ecosystem. In Continental Europe, it lives side-by-side with a lot of the species we have in the UK.

"Alternatively, it may be competing with them for resources - for flowers or nest sites."

This is a peak time of year to spot tree bumblebees: the males can bee seen dancing outside the entrances of nests to attract the attention of the new queens.

Stuart Roberts said that if a nest was found, it should be left alone.

He said: "In the first instance, relax - the nests will be vacated within the next couple of weeks and you are lucky that these first-class pollinators have chosen you!

"Anyone who spots a nest of this delightful bumblebee should report it to BWARS online (with a photo for verification) to help us build up a real-time picture of the expansion of the species across the country."


Trichogramma Minutum, T.Platneri, T.Pretiosum, and T.brassicae on one card of 30 sq.
1 card = 100,000 eggs.

  • minutum - For ornamentals, orchards, grapes and trees where the protective zone is five feet or more above ground level.
  • platneri - For avocados, ornamentals, orchards and grapes.
  • brassicae - For use on vegetable, orchards, gardens and field crops
  • pretiosum- Best in vegetable gardens where the protective zone is five feet or less above ground level.

Trichogramma wasps are tiny parasites that attack the eggs of over 200 species of moths and caterpillars. They are extremely small - 4 or 5 will fit on the head of a pin. Trichogramma lays its eggs inside the eggs of moths preventing the moth egg from hatching into a caterpillar. This prevents the damage caused by the feeding caterpillars, and also breaks the life cycle of the pest, effectively preventing the pest from reproducing. In some species of moth up to 5 parasite eggs may be laid in each moth egg. As the parasite develops within the egg, it turns black, and after about 10 days, an adult Trichogramma emerges. Adult Trichogramma can live up to 14 days after emergence.

Some of the common pests Trichogramma combat are: Cabbageworm, Tomato Hornworm, Corn Earworm, Codling Moth, Cutworm, Armyworm, Webworm, Cabbage Looper, Corn Borer, Fruitworms, and Cane Borers. Some of the popular hosts of T. brassicae mini-wasps are the eggs of: the Gypsy moth, codling moth, diamondback moth, Oriental fruit moth, tomato pinworms, cabbage loopers, imported cabbage worms, tent caterpillars, even the grossly damaging tobacco/tomato hornworms.

Trichogramma brassicae wasps

Trichogramma brassicae/minutum/platneri mixed

Trichogramma minutum wasps

Trichogramma platneri wasps

Nature is brutal, but very effective. Trichogramma wasps are probably the most widely released beneficial insect in the southwestern United States. It is used by smart growers of fruit, vegetables and ornamentals to control caterpillar and worm pests on their crops. The real beauty of this method of pest control is that the targeted pests can not develop a resistance to trichogramma like it could when a chemical pesticide is used.

Trichogramma eats the pests there's no defense against that. Chemicals are as toxic to you as they are to the pests, and often ineffective against the targeted pest due to resistance. Instead of coating the garden with toxic substances, it seems logical to this goddess to have trichogramma working round the clock. The bad guys don't stand a chance. When releasing trichogramma into your garden, it is good to wait until the first signs of a caterpillar or worm doing their business. This will ensure that you have a food source for the wasps when they are released. Releasing trichogramma is very simple. When you purchase the insects, they come to you as parasitized moth eggs. You just hang the little strips on a branch in the vicinity of your caterpillar problem and forget about it. Trichogramma is on the job! The wasp larvae kill pests before they damage plants by consuming their eggs. They are shipped while still parasitized in the host egg. You receive what looks like a small piece of sandpaper that has been inoculated with approximately 5,000 eggs. Trichogramma wasps protect plants throughout the growing season. In general, regular releases of Trichogramma ensures generations of mated females ready to attack moth eggs, and improves levels of control. Releases should be started when moths are first detected. Although the Trichogramma is minute, it can seasrch for moth eggs over considerable distances. 12,000 Trichogramma will treat up to 500 sq. ft. For orchards, field crops, etc. use 40,000 - 200,000 per acre on a weekly basis for 2-6 weeks during peak seasons. Release at peak egg laying, when adult moths are seen flying. Visual inspection are necessary for maximum effectiveness. Choose the species that suits your needs. Availability year-round.

Description: To describe Trichogramma wasps with one word: tiny. These wasps are one of the smallest insects on the planet. One closely related genus, Megaphragma, is only 0.18 mm in length as a fully-grown adult. To put this in perspective, that is the size of some bacteria! Even though they are small, they still look like wasps, miniature yellow jackets. Trichogramma wasps have constricted abdomens, short antennae and raspberry colored eyes with few facets. As with all wasps, Trichogramma wasps have two pairs of wings and an ovipositor (stinger) on the females. The wings are unusual because they are short stalks with long fringes of hair, instead of the typical membranous wing. Since these critters are so small, not much is known to describe the eggs, larvae or pupae.

Life History: You might be asking now, “Well, why are these things so small and why the heck are they my friends if I can’t even see them?” Trichogramma wasps are small because they are parasitoids of other insect eggs. Yes, there is actually a wasp out there that fully develops to adulthood inside a thrips egg. Basically, here is a snapshot of the life of a Trichogramma wasp. Adult wasps search for a host egg by smell. Most cues to find the host are found by odors emitted by the actual host egg. For example, for Trichogramma that parasitizes moth eggs, the adult wasps use odors from moth scales accidentally knocked off while the moth was laying the eggs. Once the female has found a host egg, she probes it with her ovipositor to determine a few things. She decides that it is an acceptable host only if the host egg is fresh, healthy, and not parasitized by another wasp. If the egg is suitable, she deposits her own egg inside that of the developing host egg. The wasp larva hatches and begins to consume the egg yolk and insect embryo. After the egg is consumed and the wasp completes its larval development, the larva pupates. Many times when the larvae of Trichogramma wasps pupate, they cause the insect egg that they are living in to change in color. In the case of Trichogramma that parasitize moth eggs, the moth egg usually changes to a dark metallic blue. Once the pupal stage is completed, the new adult chews a hole through the egg and emerges. When the adult is out, they immediately smell and inspect the egg that they came from. This is how they find out what kind of cues or odors they should be looking for to find the next host egg.

Beneficial Features: Trichogrammatids have been used in agriculture for many years to control insect pests. Once they find an area where there are host eggs, they are very good at parasitizing most of them. A tree right here in Bellingham, was infected severely with the cherry bark tortrix. I observed that once Trichogramma wasps learned that there were a lot of good eggs to eat on that tree, they parasitized 98% of the eggs by the end of the season! They are extremely prolific under laboratory conditions and fairly easy to produce in large quantities. In fact, the WSU and United States Department of Agriculture have produced and released 200,000 Trichogramma wasps in North Western Washington to manage the cherry bark tortrix.

Recruitment: If you have these guys working in your yard and gardens, you are blessed with one the most unique (and common) beneficial insects out there. To keep them in your yard, reduce pesticide usage if you can. Also since these wasps are so small, provide very small flowers as a nectar source. Although, I am not sure that the adult wasps even eat nectar, it cannot hurt to have these small flowers in your garden during this transition to fall. Many other beneficial insects will appreciate it too. Mostly populations build in the late season (like now) but it is important to have a population ready to go in early spring for them to impact the pest populations. Get your hand lens out and scout around.

Ancient Spider-Eating Wasp Preserved In Amber, Only Fossil Of Its Kind Ever Found

A spider moving in to kill a wasp, a 100-million-year-old scene preserved in time by amber. The only fossil ever found of a spider attacking prey caught in its web was recently discovered by researchers, the frozen actions of the combatants date back over a 100 million-years.

This really amazingly rare fossil, shows, in really remarkable detail, “an action that took place in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar in the Early Cretaceous between 97-110 million years ago, almost certainly with dinosaurs wandering nearby.”

“Aside from showing the first and only fossil evidence of a spider attacking prey in its web, the piece of amber also contains the body of a male spider in the same web. This provides the oldest evidence of social behavior in spiders, which still exists in some species but is fairly rare. Most spiders have solitary, often cannibalistic lives, and males will not hesitate to attack immature species in the same web.”

“This juvenile spider was going to make a meal out of a tiny parasitic wasp, but never quite got to it,” said George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus of zoology at Oregon State University and world expert on insects trapped in amber.

“This was a male wasp that suddenly found itself trapped in a spider web,” Poinar said. “This was the wasp’s worst nightmare, and it never ended. The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them.”

Spiders are very ancient invertebrates whose history dates back at least 200 million years, they’re rare fossils though, “the oldest fossil evidence ever found of a spider web is only about 130 million years old. An actual attack such as this between a spider and its prey caught in the web has never before been documented as a fossil, the researchers said.”

“The tree resin that forms amber is renowned for its ability to flow over insects, small plants and other life forms, preserving them in near perfection before it later turns into a semi-precious stone. It often gives scientists a look into the biology of the distant past. This spider, which may have been waiting patiently for hours to capture some prey, was smothered in resin just a split second before its attack.”

“This type of wasp, Poinar said, belongs to a group that is known today to parasitize spider and insect eggs. In that context, the attack by the spider, an orb-weaver, might be considered payback.”

The spider species in the amber and the wasp species both belong to extinct genera and have been described in detail in the research paper. Remarkably there are at least 15 completely unbroken strands of spider silk running “through the amber piece, and on some of these the wasp was ensnared.”

“Its large and probably terrified eyes now stare for eternity at its attacker, moving in for the kill.”

The research was just published in the journal Historical Biology.

Image Credits: Oregon State University Orb Weaver via Wikimedia Commons

UK spiders you're likely to find in your home and garden

UK spiders will often enter our homes in search of somewhere warm to shelter, especially in autumn and winter.

Most British spiders found in UK homes are harmless to humans, but lots of people are scared of them nonetheless. Whether it's in the corner of our living room, in the bath or hanging quietly from the ceiling, these are the most common UK spiders you're likely to spot.

1. Daddy Long Legs or Cellar Spiders

One of the most common UK spiders is the Daddy Long Leg. Commonly also known as Cellar Spiders, the thin, spindly spiders have extremely long legs and are often found in corners of the home, particularly during late summer. During the day, this species will stay incredibly still, however, when they are disturbed, they will vibrate on their web to scare away any attackers.

2. False Widow Spider

While these UK spiders aren't usually dangerous to humans, if they get caught in your clothing they might give you a little nip on the skin. These bites don't cause much irritation, but it's always advised to head to your local GP if irritation continues over a prolonged period of time. Most False Widows are a brownish colour with white markings on their back. When the weather cools down, you may notice the eight-legged creatures coming into your home to keep warm.

3. Giant House Spider

The Giant House Spider is one of the fastest spiders around, and can impressively run up to half a metre per second. It can be identified by its large, brown body and will commonly be found in UK homes during autumn. Places to spot them include behind the fireplace, in the bath or under the sofa.

4. Cupboard Spider

Cupboard spiders got their name because they have adapted to living in our cupboards. They are also known as dark comb-footed spiders. This spider lives in the UK but also abroad where, in places home to more venomous spiders, is often mistaken for the notorious black widow.

5. Lace Web Spider

The Lace Web Spider is usually around four to 15mm long and can be spotted living in the holes of walls and bark. These are very common and widespread around the UK, so don't be surprised if you find them around your home during autumn and winter, particularly after it has rained. Their web is made from a fine silk (which is where their name comes from) and has a wooly texture.

6. Zebra Spider

The Zebra Spider &mdash or the Jumping Spider &mdash can be identified by its black and white body. This species may be smaller in size compared to others, but they can move very fast (especially when they feel they are being attacked). During April and October is when you are most likely to see this spider.

7. Cardinal Spider

One of the largest spiders in the UK is the Cardinal Spider or the Tegenaria parietina&mdash which can grow up to 14cm in size. You'll be able to spot this species by its reddish brown body and find it living mostly in walls of buildings. They're not prone to bite humans, but have been known to react with a bite if they feel threatened.

Cardinal spiders can survive for months without food and got their name from a 14th Century legend claiming that Cardinal Wolsey saw one in Hampton Court and was scared of it.

8. Money Spider

The Money Spider is a family of very small spiders, which are also often known as Sheet Weavers. They are often spotted close to ground level on garden plants, in long grass or around plant pots outside. Around five millimetres in length, they are small compared to others found in the home. You'll be able to identify the spider by its glossy brown body.

How to spot the 14 biting spiders that live in the UK – are they dangerous?

This may not come as a surprise as the same happens every year, but you may be in denial.

It’s spider mating season , spider home invasion time – whatever you want to call it.

In other words – an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare.

Every autumn eight-legged creatures leave their webs in favour of the dry cosy conditions of Brit homes.

This is the perfect place for them to mate.

There are more than 650 different species of spiders in the UK, but only a handful of them can cause any harm to humans.

Read More
Related Articles

Here are the spiders you may spot around your house

Are they dangerous? They are the most poisonous spider in the UK.

A bite can cause pain, swelling, numbness, discomfort, burning, chest pain and nausea.

There have been no reported cases of deaths in the UK, but severe allergic reactions can lead to hospitalisation.

How to spot them: They are about 10mm, dark brown and have a bulbous body.

2. The Tube Web Spider

Are they dangerous? They can be quite aggressive, and are more likely to bite than other species.

A bite can be painful, similar to a bee sting, but they aren’t deadly.

May cause discomfort for around 5-6 hours.

How to spot them: They produce a tube-shaped webb, and can grow to around 15 to 20mm.

The black spider is one of the biggest in Britain.

3. The Woodlouse Spider

Are they dangerous? You have to come in very close contact with one for them to want to bite you.

Bites are not dangerous but can cause itchiness.

How to spot them: The spider is colourful, has three pairs of eyes, a dark red body and yellow abdomen.

Males can grow to 15mm, but females can be twice that size.

4. The Cardinal Spider

Are they dangerous? Although technically venomous, its bites are rare and quite painless.

How to spot them: One of the largest spiders in the UK, it can measure up to 12cm.

Are they dangerous? Their bites rarely penetrate human skin, but they rather feast on insects.

How to spot them: They are the smallest spider species in the UK, measuring less than 5mm.

They usually have grey or black bodies, and make a small web sheet which they position themselves under.

6. The Walnut Orb-Weaver Spider

Are they dangerous? They are one of the most venomous spiders in the UK, just behind the false widow.

They aren’t deadly, but bites are very unpleasant and can cause burning, swelling and numbness.

How to spot them: Males can reach 8mm, and females can be double that size.

7. The Black Lace-Weaver

Are they dangerous? Black Lace Weaver spiders are quite venomous.

A bite will cause pain, around three days of swelling and nausea.

How to spot them: They measure around 11 to 15mm, and are almost black.

Are they dangerous? They can be quite angry, but their bite isn’t fatal.

But curiously, the pain from the bite can spread to your groin.

How to spot them: The Wasp spider is black, yellow and white with a stripe pattern.

Females can reach 15mm, and males grow to 5mm. 9.

Are they dangerous? They only bite when threatened, but their bites will cause pain and inflammation for around two to three days.

How to spot them: Males can range from 5-12mm, and the females can be a bit bigger, at 6-20mm.

10. The Cupboard Spider

Are they dangerous? The cupboard spider can bite, but without long-lasting effects.

Symptoms may last for a couple of days, and include blistering, muscle spasms, pain or fever.

How to spot them: The cupboard spider is often mistaken for a false widow due to its shape and colour.

They generally grow to approximately 10mm, and very in colour from brown, to black and purple.

11. The Giant House Spider

Are they dangerous? They do possess a potent venom, but aren’t usually a threat to humans.

How to spot them: Its massive body can reach 1.9cm, and has a 4.5cm leg span. It’s one of the fastest spiders in the UK, and can run up to half a metre per second.

The Giant House spider is brown, and usually measures 120mm.

12. Daddy Long Legs Spider / Cellar Spider

Are they dangerous? Urban legend says that Daddy Long Legs are deadly, and that their venom could kill a human if their fangs could pierce skin.

But research has found it is highly toxic to insects, not humans.

Daddy Long Legs venom might deliver a brief burning sensation, if anything at all.

How to spot them: They can be spotted by its tiny grey body and long, thin-legged appearance.

Its body usually measures less than 10mm, but the legs can reach 7cm.

13. The Lace-Webbed Spider

Are they dangerous? Bites can be relatively painful, and symptoms include localised swelling.

This may last for some hours.

How to spot them: The lace webbed spider is brown with yellow marks, and grows to around 20mm.

14. The Zebra Back Spider / Zebra jumping spider

Are they dangerous? They do bite, but their venom isn’t considered medically threatening.

How to spot them: They can easily be spotted by their black and white marks over its back and legs.

How many UK spiders are actually dangerous?

Finding a baby Aragog in your house can be terrifying - but are there any species in the UK that could actually do us harm?

We are lucky in the UK. Unlike many parts of the world, there are very few animals here that can do us any harm. That said, there are a few species that need to be ‘handled with care’. Most of these are invertebrates, the obvious candidates being wasps and bees. There are also a handful of UK spider species that can give us a nip. There is a big difference though between an animal being able to bite, and us needing to think of the animal as ‘dangerous’.

There are around 650 species of spider in the UK, ranging from those with a leg span of just a couple of millimetres, to the 12cm leg span of the cardinal spider. Spiders are predators, and they use an impressive pair of fangs to catch prey, and to introduce venom. All spiders have fangs but not all spiders have fangs that are able to pierce human skin. Consequently, there are relatively few UK species that are able to bite us in any meaningful way.

According to the Natural History Museum, there are just 12 species of spider that have been known to bite people. These include some quite common spiders we might find around our homes and gardens, including the woodlouse spiders and the so-called house spiders we see moving around in autumn. Bites from these spiders are extremely uncommon because, like most spiders, they are not aggressive. Even if you were unlucky enough to get bitten it is extremely unlikely that the bite would develop into anything more than short-lived, low-level pain. Some spider species have venoms that might also cause some localised swelling or itching.

The venom from most of the handful of UK species that can bite is less concerning than the puncture wound the bite causes. Fangs can introduce bacteria into the tiny wounds they create, so if you suspect you have been bitten by a spider it is best to clean the wound and use a local antiseptic treatment. Just as with a wasp or bee sting, antihistamines may help with the swelling and itching but if symptoms do not improve, get worse or develop into other symptoms then it is sensible to seek medical attention. Rarely, some people may be allergic to spider venom, with similar symptoms developing as with a bee or wasp sting allergy.

One spider that recent research suggests may be of some medical concern is the noble false widow spider Steatoda nobilis. This species was first recorded in the UK in Torquay in 1879 and has recently increased in abundance and range. The media have been quick to pick up on ‘spider bite’ stories, but it often not possible to verify that the victim has been bitten by any spider, let alone a noble false widow. Nonetheless, this species can bite and, because it seems to thrive in urban areas and around our homes and outbuildings, then we might expect to see more reports of bites as time goes on.

For most, the bite from a noble false widow, is nothing more than a short-lived, nuisance, rather like a bee or wasp sting. For a very few people, a bite might develop into something more serious. A study in Ireland of confirmed false widow bites found that some required hospitalisation but this should not be cause for panic. Amongst the scaremongering we should always remember that spider bites are incredibly rare in the UK. The vast majority of us will never get bitten by a spider, and of those few that do, the vast majority will experience only very minor effects.


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What to Consider when Buying a Spider Repellent

There are myriad repellent brands in the market and you need to be careful to only select that which will work the best for you.

Here are 5 factors that you should consider before you settle for your favorite brand:

  1. Prolonged Residual Effect. When you’re looking for a repellent, you should always consider the length of its efficacy. For example, if you go shopping for a repellent and you find two products X and Y, you shouldn’t be excited about the price but rather its efficiency. If X is $20 but has a residual effect of 30 days but Y is $100 but has a residual effect of up to 6 months, then you’ll realize that buying Y is the best decision that you can make. It’s not only a better bargain but also offers the convenience of having up to 6 months of protection. This saves you from the hassle of short-interval repeat treatments!
  2. Safety. You wouldn’t want a product that will have adverse side effects on any of your family members, right? Well, you should be cautious when purchasing the spider repellents to ensure that you only acquire products that are safe for use at home. One of the surest technique that you can use to access the safety is by checking the endorsement label by various regulatory bodies in the US including the USDA and EPA Gold Standards.
  3. Active Ingredients. I recommend that you look for highly eco-friendly products to ensure that you conserve the environment. Some of the natural products that you may consider include the Nature Shield Repellents and Stay Away Scent Pouches. These products largely apply essential oils which produce an unappealing scent to the spiders thus chasing them away. The best thing about the products is the fact that essential oils are not harmful to human beings. This makes it easy for you to apply them in sensitive areas such as the kitchen and the living room.
  4. Location of Infestation. When shopping for a repellent, you should ensure that you’ll have an easy time reaching all the locations where the spiders are hiding. For example, if you notice spider webs around the ceiling and the attics, you may want to consider a product that’s packaged with a sprayer nozzle to ease the application process. On the other hand, if the infested areas are unhidden, the pouches and other sprinkling products will work out well for you.
  5. Efficacy. Every marketer will work hard to sell their products. As such, you shouldn’t believe everything they tell you since it could be flawed. I appreciate the difficulties of identifying a genuine product. As such I recommend that you use the top 5 products that I’ve reviewed herein for guaranteed efficacy.

What is the kind of this wasp killing spider from UK? - Biology

Critter Files/Insects/Wasps, Ants, & Bees/Solitary Wasps
By Katja Seltmann and Blake Newton
University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

KINGDOM: Animalia | PHYLUM: Arthropoda | CLASS: Insecta | ORDER : Hymenoptera | SUBORDER: Aprocrita (narrow-waisted wasps, ants, and bees)

This page is devoted to a large group of narrow-waisted wasps from several different families collectively known as "Solitary Wasps." This group includes all narrow-waisted wasps that do NOT live in hives or colonies. Most of these wasps are parasitic: parasitic wasps are solitary wasps whose offspring feed on or inside other arthropods.

There are hundreds of species of narrow-waisted solitary wasps that live in Kentucky. Most of them are ant-like in appearance, with narrow waists and thread-like antennae. All solitary wasps have 4 membranous wings except for a few types, such as velvet ants, which do not have any wings. The best way to distinguish a solitary wasp from a social, hive-dwelling wasp is to observe behavior: hive wasps will stay close to their hive and return to it often during their routine solitary wasps may have a small burrow or nest that they return to, but it will be much smaller than the hive of a social wasp. In addition, you will rarely see solitary wasps interacting with other wasps, while hive-dwelling wasps will often communicate with one another, often by touching antennae or legs.

Shown above is a beetle grub being fed upon by the larva
of a tiphiid wasp. The tiphiid larvae is the smaller insect
in the picture. (R. Bessin, 2000)

Although they are not as well-known as paper wasps, hornets, and yellow-jackets, there are many species of narrow-waisted solitary wasps in Kentucky, including hundreds of parasitic wasps.

Solitary wasps and parasitic wasps are an important component in a variety of ecosystems: almost all solitary wasp species provide insects or spiders to their larvae, either by laying their eggs in burrows provisioned with prey or by laying their eggs inside insect hosts. Most species are very specific about the types of prey that they hunt. Mud-daubers, for instance, pack their mud tubes with spiders. Wasp species that are internal parasites will usually lay their eggs in only one or two insect species and are specific about which stage in the life-cycle that they attack: some species attack only larvae, some attack only eggs, some attack only adult insects or pupae. Most adult solitary wasps feed on nectar. Solitary wasps are found in most Kentucky habitats, from farms and lawns to forests and stream sides.

Although most solitary wasps have stingers, the stingers are not used for defense as often as with hive wasps. A few species, like cicada killers and mub-daubers, are able to sting in defense. Many parasitic wasps species have stingers that are only used to place eggs inside hosts and cannot be used in defense. Because of this, many solitary wasps are fed upon by birds, spiders, and other wasps.

Because their larvae feed on other insects, most species of narrow-waisted solitary wasps are considered beneficial. A few types, such as cicada killers, are large enough and common enough in urban areas that they are sometimes considered pests, even though they rarely sting people. Read our ENTFact about pest Cicada killer wasps for more information.

FAMILY: Sphecidae
There are many species of Sphecid Wasps in Kentucky. Most are shiny black or metallic blue, some with bright red, yellow, or orange markings. The most common sphecid wasps are in the subfamily Sphecinae and are called "Thread-Waisted Wasps." These sphecids have a long, narrow, antlike appearance. Most thread-waisted wasps build their nests underground. Some sphecids, often called "mud-daubers," make mud nests for their larvae which they attach to the sides of rocks and buildings. The Cicada Killer Wasp (Sphecius specious) is also a type of Sphecid wasp. At 1 1/2," cicada killers are the largest wasps found in Kentucky. They are commonly seen in late summer as they hunt for cicadas which they use to provision their eggs in underground burrows. Like many sphecid wasps, cicada killers are able to sting people, but they will not do so unless provoked.

Cicada Killer Burrow (R. Bessin, 2000)


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