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Sexual dimorphism your thing?

December 28, 2013

DSCN4932Then look no further than the Flower Wasps of the family Tiphidae. Sexual dimorphism of course is where there is a difference in the size and/or form of the female when compared to the male.
There are several subfamilies of flower wasps. In those sub-families where the female is winged, both sexes are the same size. However in the sub-families where the female is wingless, the female is much smaller and is often mistaken for an ant. These wasps feed on the nectar from flowers. As the female cannot fly it relies on being carried from flower to flower by the male during the mating process. To attract the male, the female climbs a grass stalk and emits male-attracting pheromones. Pictured above is a mating pair of Flower Wasps (Thynnoides sp) found on Burgan (Kunzea ericoides). The male wasp (right) has grasped the smaller female with its claspers, part of the genitalia (click on photo to view in greater detail).

Nectar Scarab feeding frenzy

Nectar Scarab feeding frenzy

After mating, the female wasp burrows in the ground searching for beetle larvae, particularly Scarabs, which they paralyse. The wasp eggs are laid on the larvae. In the Burgan where this photo was taken, there are currently thousands of Nectar Scarabs (Phyllotocus apicalis). Some of their offspring are destined to be wasp larvae food.

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