ID’s on each
A generally scarce species although perhaps especially prone to under-recording through its secretive and elusive nature. It is essentially a southern species, although an old record for ‘Bridgenorth’ (Saunders 1896) may refer to Shropshire.
Status (in Britain only)
The species is not listed in the Red Data Book (Shirt 1987), but is recognised as a Nationally Notable (Nb) species in Falk (1991).
The wasp tends to inhabit woodland, especially that with streams and marshy areas which provide wet mud and clay for nesting materials.
Apparently single-brooded; May to September.
These are most frequently spiders in the family Clubionidae, but there are other records for gnaphosids, salticids, agelenids, thomisids, lycosids, segestriids and anyphaenids.
The nesting behaviour (which is summarised by Richards and Hamm (1939) and Day (1988)) is rather more complex than that of most pompilids and demonstrates tremendous versatility on the part of the female. The nests are built in cavities in a great variety of situations, non-British reports citing nests beneath stones, in stone walls, in tree stumps (often in old beetle burrows), under bark and in crevices of tree trunks, in empty galls of cynipid wasps, in empty burrows of earthworms or cicadas, in old snail shells, in beehives, in an old cloth in a garden, behind a door frame, in a loft and in an old mirror in a garden. The nests may sometimes be mixed with those of other aculeates such as Anthophora bees and Ancistrocerus wasps and, indeed, A. carbonarius may use old nest holes of these species. Females construct small, barrel-shaped cells which are laid on their side. These are manufactured from small pellets of clay obtained from damp areas, such as river banks or beneath stones, and carried to the nest site between the mandibles and a group of specialised hairs on the basal mouthparts. Water is also collected separately, probably to aid nest building. Completed nests may consist of ten or more cells (as many as 34 on one occasion) arranged in a block. These nest cells, constructed prior to prey capture, are stocked with a wide variety of spiders obtained from amongst vegetation. One prey item is placed in each cell. The wasp may fly with small prey individuals (unusual in the Pompilidae where the prey is usually dragged along the ground).
These wasps may occasionally visit flowers such as spurge (G M Spooner, unpublished).
Author of profile
Found south of a line roughly between the Wash and the Severn, although more common in the south of this region. Overseas: Central and southern Europe.
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being of conservation concern.
A widespread, although not always frequently found species. It is found in a range of open neutral or calcareous grassland habitats, provided that there are plenty of Asteraceae flowering and a degree of litter build-up around tussocks.This is where the snails, whose shells provide the nest site, live out their lives. Hay-cut and hard-grazed grasslands are not suitable for this bee.
The species is univoltine, but has a long flight period, being found from mid-May to late September.
Nests are made within medium-sized old snail-shells, such as those of Cepea nemoralis. The cells are made within the spiral from chewed plant material.
Males and females of this species are most often visit Asteraceae but many males have been found with orchid pollinia attached to the apical terga (S P M Roberts pers. comm.).
G R Else reports rearing the generalist chalcid wasp Pteromalus apum from a nest of Osmia spinulosa (pers. comm.). No cleptoparasitic aculeates have been reared from this species in Britain.
Four new species of Sphecodes bees to add to the record on the lode-hornigsea field system.
- Sphecodes rubicundus
- Sphecodes ephippius
- Sphecodes geoffrellus
- Sphecodes longulus (which is tiny only a few mm long)
- Already recorded is Sphecodes monilicornis
New species for me
Mainly confined to southern England, with a few records from further north. Not known from Scotland, Ireland or the Channel Islands. A local mining bee but sometimes abundant where found. A western Palaearctic species, the range extending from Britain to the Urals, and central Iberia to Iran.
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Particularly associated with calcareous grassland; occasionally open woodland on chalk, wooded heathland and fenland.
Females from mid April to late September; males early July to September.
Nesting habits are apparently largely unknown. In Germany, the species is stated to be “solitary” (i.e. non-social) (Westrich 1989).
Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), broom (Cytisus scoparius), plum (Prunus domestica), wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), wild carrot (Daucus carota), willow (Salix species), speedwell (Veronica species), guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus), tormentil (Potentilla erecta) and ragwort (Senecio species).