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Black as pitch…

February 15, 2019

…is one of the many similes to describe the total absence of colour. It is a state rarely encountered in nature unless of course you take yourself deep underground. But I reckon that I have seen something close. The Black (or Blue) Hairy Flower Wasp (Scolia soror), pictured left, is very black and very hairy, hence the name. The wings, depending on the angle at which you look at them appear to be a deep metallic blue. At the moment they are hunting around for two things – food for themselves and food for their future young.

The adults are nectar feeders. Some of these pictures were taken at a Crepe Myrtle in the Pioneer Reserve in Strath Creek, where they were swarming the bush. After eating their fill, squadrons of them flew low across the ground, particularly over areas which were heavily mulched, including compost heaps and wood-chip piles. This is where Scarab Beetle larvae live. After mating, a female Flower Wasp searches for scarab larvae and when she find them, digs down, paralyses and then lays eggs on them. The hatched wasp larvae then consume the beetle grub.

It is no coincidence that this blog site was discussing Scarab Beetles about a month ago. At that time they were mating and laying eggs. The time for beetle eggs to hatch is between 7 to 35 days. And now six weeks on the Black Hairy Flower Wasps are mating and laying eggs (on the hatched Scarab larvae).

Everything is interconnected!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    February 15, 2019 8:13 am

    Hello Ron, Scarab beetles have become an issue for farmers when large numbers of larvae start to eat the roots of grasses (with more biomass of grazers below the ground than above, some farmers have resorted to insecticides) and are a big issue when all these larvae emerge as beetles to ravage the remaining eucalypts in our farmlands – a system clearly out of balance. Many birds find and eat the larvae in the ground, but not many can eat the hard-shelled adults (this is where Sugar Gliders excel). So it is good to hear about another natural control agent – and your article hints at what we need to do to encourage these flower wasps across our farmlands. Thanks

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