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More tales from the Swamp Gum

February 21, 2020

Following on from reporting about the tiny critters inhabiting the leaves and flowers of a local Swamp Gum (Eucalyptus ovata), the insects I was actually searching for also turned up – Flower Wasps. Regular readers of this blog probably think I obsess about Flower Wasps and they are probably right. They are my favourite insect.

As mentioned in many! previous blogs there is sexual dimorphism in Flower Wasps. The male wasp is winged and is much larger than the female wasp. The female wasp does not have wings so to get to the nectar rich flowers at the top of a tree such as a Swamp Gum it has to entice a male to mate with her. During and after that act the male wasp flies to the higher branches to feed on the nectar and the female wasp hangs on for the ride to also feed. It is one thing to read about and know this but it is truly magic to watch it in action. The local Swamp Gum being bent over offers that opportunity as the flowers are near ground level. Pictured below is a male (winged) and female wasp feeding (and mating) at the flowers. After feeding, the female wasp drops to the ground where it searches for beetle larvae on which to lay its eggs.

The vast majority of adult wasps are nectar feeders (and therefore pollinators). Another species turning up to feed at the Swamp Gum is also a regular to this blog, a Gasteruptiid Wasp. Pictured below is a male Gasteruptiid feeding. The female is recognisable by having a white tipped ovipositor about half the length of its body in size. Female wasps lay their eggs in the nests of Blue-banded Bees. They are a regular at the Blue-banded B&B.

This Swamp Gum could be a source from many stories to come – unless the heavy downpour last night washed out all the flowers. Stay tuned.

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