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I spied a wasp

March 31, 2015

DSCN6494 You may have noticed over the past couple of months a black wasp with bright orange antennae prowling around the place inspecting nooks and crannies. It is a Black Spider Wasp (Fabriogenia sp.) and as the name suggests it is looking for spiders.

After mating, the male dies (it will do anything to get out of looking after the kids!) and the female hunts for a single spider on which to lay her eggs. DSCN7516
The picture above shows a female wasp dragging a paralysed spider to the nest. The spider’s legs have been removed so that it is easier to carry and so that it actually fits in the nest opening. Click to enlarge photo.

The nest is a burrow dug into sandy soil. The wasp uses its back legs to rapidly excavate a tunnel. The picture right shows the wasp leaving a burrow that has been tunneled under a clump of moss.

What I DSCN7519didn’t realise and only found out by watching this wasp is that once the spider has been deposited and the eggs laid the female wasp seals the spider and eggs into the burrow using wet mud, just as I have seen Potter Wasps or Mud-dauber Wasps do on the sides of our house. Pictured left is the female wasp returning to the burrow with jaws full of mud. Before entering the tunnel she would mould the mud into a convenient ball shape. And then it is off to source more mud (pictured below).

Up, up and away

Up, up and away

It reminds me of horror movies in the dim, distant past where people were bricked into basements.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2015 12:03 pm

    I found this so interesting and useful – I thank you for your keen observation as well as all the great information – I observed a similar wasp in Porter Scrub Conservation Park on a piece of bark on the ground in dry conditions this March, 2015 – I suspected it was a Spider Wasp so I Googled, and yours was the post I found – All The Best and Thanks very much – Michal

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