Gorytes laticinctus – This was another one of those odd encounters in the garden. I spotted this bright striped wasp, which is the rarest of its genus in the UK, walking in circles, going under and over and between leaves of a plant, almost like it was looking for something. Even when I shoved my big macros lens virtually in its face it did not deviate from its intent. In fact it had spent most of the day there, and the day after. It appeared to be focused on one particular leaf. This is a male. The females gather up bugs like froghoppers to feed its young.
I found this magnificent wasp on my patio window looking in. It is a medium to large species at around 15mm (5/8in) long. As can be seen they have very distinct black and yellow abdominal bands. They are predatory on moth and butterfly larvae. The images portray the male.
It is usually seen feeding on umbellifers, or flying through foliage on the hunt for prey. Click that mouse … and click it again if you wanna closer look-see …
Copyright: Peter Hillman Camera used: Nikon D7200 Date taken: 30th June 2019 Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire
Not quite a woodshed but a garden shed. Early this morning I heard the deep buzzing first of Britain’s largest wasp, the European Hornet (Vespa crabro), then I saw it scrambling up the shed window trying to get out.
September 2017, rear garden, Staffordshire, England.
This extraordinary creature is an ichneumon wasp. I found two of them in my moth trap the other morning. They are nocturnal wasps, and are readily attracted to light. This is a fairly large wasp at 20mm (3/4 inch), long, with a red or orange body, antennae and legs. It has a strongly arched abdomen, which makes it look quite a fearsome wasp even to me, and I was quite wary of it, even though I knew it did not contain a sting. The females have a long ovipositor for laying eggs, and she could jab you a little with it if you were brave enough to handle one, but generally they will not harm you, say, compared to a hornet or a common wasp which will sting you, of course. It can easily be confused with other similar species so care has to be taken in identification.
The adults fly August to September, and can be found almost anywhere, including woodland, farmland, parks and gardens. The larvae are parasites of Heart & Dart moth caterpillars (Agrotis exclamationis). Common and widespread throughout.
Thanks to Craig Slawson and Gavin Broad of the Staffordshire Ecological Record for confirming identification.
Sitting on my small square of decking near my garden pond, just relaxing after being busy in the garden, a small drama began to play out.
There are always many Spotted Wolf Spider (Pardosa amentata) gathered around my pond, resting on the rocks and stones, and hiding in-between them, and what appears amongst them is this female Ichneumon wasp, Ichneumon stramentor. It was directly on the side of the decking beneath me, and it was moving quite rapidly back and forth across the boarding, its long antennae flickering madly as if in searching for something. The females hunt out moth caterpillars where it will inject them with eggs, the larvae upon hatching will eat the caterpillar from the inside out whilst it is still alive, quite a gruesome way to go. Maybe this was what this wasp was searching for, a host for its young.
But whilst the Ichneumon wasp was preoccupied in its own possible hunt, it was actually being hunted. A Spotted Wolf Spider suddenly appeared but a few centimetres away from beneath the decking, and was observing the wasp, maybe weighing it up. It crept a little closer to it, but appeared quite wary. It observed its potential prey, must have decided it was too big for it to tackle, and the wasp went on its own way.
Out of all the insects to attempt to photograph I find wasps can be one of the trickiest of challenges as they hardly ever keep still. This is an ichneumon wasp, quite a large species and colourful with its bright yellow markings. There are many similar species and identifying them can be a challenge in itself. There are believed to be over 3,000 species in Britain alone. But thanks to my blogger friend Ark I managed to positively identify it.I spotted this one yesterday afternoon as it appeared quite interested in my back fence, poking its head in nooks and crannies. I did not think I would get any shots in, it was so busy, until it stopped for a brief moment to have a little spruce up.
Despite its fearsome looks it does not sting. The bright yellow spot on the tip of the abdomen and the pale yellow bands on the antennae define it as a female as these are absent in the male. The larvae are parasites of moth larvae, notably the Large Yellow Underwing and Setaceous Hebrew Character. Seen April to July, and found in meadows, hedgerows, woodland margins and gardens.
Ichneumon stramentor female, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. April 2017.
Britain’s largest wasp, it is most distinctive with its brown and yellow colouration. The eyes are large and C-shaped, and they also have three simple eyes (ocelli) in the centre of their forehead between the main eyes. Length 20 to 30mm.
The nest is made from chewed wood and is paper-like, and are found in tree hollows, chimneys or wall cavities. Hornets are carnivores and predate on many garden pests, but they can also destroy honeybee hives.
Seen spring and summer, and through into autumn until the frosts set in which kill them all off except the young queens which survive the winter hibernating in sheds or tree hollows. Found in woods, parks and gardens. Attracted to light. Quite uncommon, but widespread in the south and centre of England and most of Wales, scarce or absent elsewhere.
Hornets are characterised as aggressive insects, and although due to their large size they can appear fearsome, they are less aggressive and less likely to sting than the average wasp. But their sting can be quite painful if they are provoked or especially if their nest is threatened.
These marble like galls measuring up to 25mm in diameter are found beneath the leaves of Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur) and Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea). Cynips quercusfolii is a tiny black gall wasp, and within the plant gall its larva stage grows. On Pedunculate Oak the gall is smooth where on Sessile Oak it is rough and warty. They start off as yellowish-green, turning pink then red towards autumn. It turns brown just before the leaves fall.
The gall and the wasp larva inside matures on the ground and the adult wasp emerges between late autumn and early spring. Eggs are laid in the dormant oak buds where small purple galls are formed. These will bring forth the sexual generation which emerge in late spring and lay their eggs in the new season’s leaves to start the process over again. Seen summer until autumn. Common and widespread.
This strange yet beautiful growth is the result of a tiny gall wasp called Diplolepis rosae laying its eggs in a wild rose bud in springtime. Also called the ‘Bedeguar Gall Wasp’, the females appear in the spring just in time to lay their eggs in the fresh young buds. Males are a rarity, and most females lay fertilised eggs without mating.
The gall mainly grows on the stem of the plant, and it can spread up to 7cm across. The gall has a woody core each surrounded by branching red or green hairs. The core usually has multiple chambers in which each a wasp larvae develops. The galls turn brown in the autumn and lose many of their hairs.
I have had a fascinating few months watching my garden pond develop, but one thing I wasn’t really expecting was the regular visitation of wasps. They drop by to have a drink, and then they are off again, and aren’t any real bother at all.
I was photographing my sweet peas after a night’s heavy rain when I spotted this tiny wasp resting on one of them. It only grows up to 10mm long, and it is identified by the white, black and orange banded hind tibia. The overall ground colour is black and reddish, with a distinctive white spot at the rear of the thorax.
This is a parasitic wasp mainly of hoverfly larvae, pupae and eggs, but also other diptera species. The females use their long ovipositors to inject the host and lay eggs inside it, and when the resulting larvae hatch they feed internally and eventaully kill the host organism.
It is seen June to September, and found in meadows and hedgerows. It appears to be fairly common.
I am lucky enough to live right on the edge of green belt land, and this morning I ventured out amongst the trees and the grass before the rains came again. These are some of the wonderful and beautiful insects I came across in the English jungle. I have yet to identify them all.
Photographs taken June 2016, local walk, Staffordshire.
Similar to the German Wasp (Vespula germanica) which has has three black spots on its face and forms a triangle, where as the Common Wasp has an anchor-shaped mark on its face. It has bright yellow and black bands running down its body, and four large yellow spots at the rear of its thorax. Length 10 to 18mm.
The nest is made from chewed wood and is paper-like. It is constructed underground, in tree hollows, or in sheds and attics and is yellowish in colour. The adults hunt for other insects, most often caterpillars, to feed their larvae. The adults feed on nectar.
Seen April to October. Found in various habitats wherever there is suitable prey, including woodland, parkland and gardens. A common and widespread species throughout Britain.
Photographs taken May 2014, on garage wall in rear garden, Staffordshire. I notice they like to drink from my birdbath and garden pool. I also hear and see them scraping bits of wood from my larchlap fence which they must use to build their nests.