There are a number of Ruby-tailed wasp species that look very similar and are difficult to tell apart. They’re all beautifully coloured, with red, blue, green and bronze metallic colours. These wasps are solitary, meaning they don’t live in large social nests.
Chrysis ignita is the species of the ruby-tailed wasps that can be found across the UK from April through to September.
Being barely 10mm in length, they can be difficult to spot. You can often see them running restlessly over walls and tree trunks, constantly using their downward-curving antennae to pick up the scent of their host insect. As a parasite they require another species for part of their life cycle, Chrysis ignita mainly parasitizes mason bees and other solitary bees.
Parasite on bees
Once a female ruby-tailed wasp finds the nest of its host insect, it explores the entrance to make sure no one is home. If it should encounter an angry resident, it is well equipped to defend itself; it has a very hard body cuticle which protects it from stings and the underside of the abdomen is concave so the wasp can curl up into a ball.