Another two year’s looking paid off
The wasp spider is a great mimic – looking just like a common wasp keeps it safe from predators, even though it is not dangerous itself. An introduced species, it can be found in Southern England, but is spreading north.
The wasp spider is a very large, colourful spider that is a recent arrival in the UK from the continent and has slowly spread over the south of England. It builds large orb webs in grassland and heathland, and attaches its silk egg-sacs to the grasses. The web has a wide, white zig-zag strip running down the middle, known as a ‘stabilimentum’, the function of which is unclear. Mating is a dangerous game for males; they wait at the edge of the web until the female has moulted into a mature form, then take advantage of her jaws being soft and rush in to mate. However, many males still get eaten during this time.
A new exciting find for me possibly the first record of this bee in Cambridgeshire there are records for Bedfordshire,Suffolk but not Cambridge mainly due to the lack of red bartsia (Odontites vernus)
In the British Isles, the species is apparently confined to southern England, South Wales (Glamorgan), and the Channel Isles (Alderney).
Status (in Britain only)
Listed as a Nationally Notable (Nb) species by Falk (1991).
This species has a preference for chalk grassland and occasionally open broad-leaved woodland on chalky soils (the host plant, however, is not restricted to calcareous soils).
Univoltine; late July to early September, the flight period being closely synchronised with the flowering of the red bartsia.
Monolectic on red bartsia (Odontites vernus).
The nest burrows are excavated in the soil, but are rarely found. In Dorset, S P M Roberts (pers. comm.) found a few widely scattered nest burrows in exposed, hard, compacted soil overlying chalk.
Both sexes visit red bartsia and, rarely, rest-harrow (Ononis repens) and water mint (Mentha aquatica), for nectar. The males fly low and actively around the flowers of red bartsia, only pausing occasionally for nectar.
None known, though it is likely that Nomada flavopicta may be a cleptoparasite of the species, having been found flying in the same site as M. tricincta and where its other known host, M. leporina, was apparently absent.