Monday, 2 February 2009

Wasp's going on here?

While I was relocating a very excitable huntsman spider from the kitchen to the garden, a black flower wasp (Scolia sp.) dropped in to see what was happening. Of course, I didn't have my camera so I had to rush back into the house, find it and then track down the wasp. Luckily, they're not that difficult to spot, given that they're 3 – 4 cm long and their wings have an eye-catching iridescent blue sheen.

To make things trickier, I had the macro lens on, so I had to get close to this mighty buzzer to take the photo. Even though they're not aggressive wasps, I still gave it breathing space.

The newly-liberated hunstman was reasonably safe from the attentions of this species. Unlike the orange-and-black pompiliids, which lay their eggs on live but paralysed spiders, the black flower wasp prefers curl grubs and other scarab larvae as hosts for their young. Without lawn, my garden is probably scarab free, so there are slim pickings here for these wonderful wasps. At least I got a close look before it moved on.


Duncan said...

I had to relocate a wife frightener last night too!

Snail said...

I don't mind them too much but I thought this one would fare better outside than in.

Tyto Tony said...

Never had any luck encouraging huntsmen out of my old L300 and into the caravan. What I really need is something that feeds on very large cockroaches. Is there a giant roach wasp?

Snail said...

Funny you should mention cockroaches because the native Drymaplaneta have decided to take up residence in my kitchen. I've just this instant been encouraging them to move on.

There is a cockroach-killing wasp, Ampulex compressa, in Qld. It deals with cockroaches in a fascinating but really unsettling way. After injecting venom into the victim's brain, the wasp grabs hold of an antenna and leads the much larger but now compliant cockroach to its doom ...

Wikipedia has a reasonable entry on it here.

Denis Wilson said...

Fascinating discussion sparked by Tony's question.
Good stuff.
I was impressed by the efforts of one of those large Yellow and Black Spider-Killing Wasps, dragging a Huntmen several times its weight, as far as 50 metres, down a metre-high post, through grass, and off into a Blackberry Bush.
Amazing performance.

Tyto Tony said...

Ampulex gets my vote. But only if it sticks to house roaches.

Snail said...

These conversations go off in interesting directions.

I wonder how much energy a wasp expends in man-handling (wasp-handling) a spider or other prey to the nest? That's a heck of a lot of work, especially if it's only one egg per victim.

Judith said...

Snail ... I seem to have had an "OOPS!" moment.

I get a notice on your page indicatihng that I have "flagged" something objectionable in this blog ... I have no idea how I did that .. but please use this as an apology to whomever.

Now I will stop typing in the dark :(


Snail said...

Easily done, Judith! I wouldn't think that Blogger will get too concerned about it :)

Dave Coulter said...


Snail said...


Nature's amazing, isn't it?