Auplopus carbonarius-male- Garden

Notable Species

Distribution
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).
Habitat
The wasp tends to inhabit woodland, especially that with streams and marshy areas which provide wet mud and clay for nesting materials.
Flight period
Apparently single-brooded; May to September.
Prey collected
These are most frequently spiders in the family Clubionidae, but there are other records for gnaphosids, salticids, agelenids, thomisids, lycosids, segestriids and anyphaenids.
Nesting biology
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).
Flowers visited
These wasps may occasionally visit flowers such as spurge (G M Spooner, unpublished).
Author of profile

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Anoplius viaticus (Spider hunting wasp) with prey (Kings forest)

Anoplius viaticus is one of the largest (14mm) and most spectacular spider-hunting wasps, with striking red and black bands on the abdomen. They are found entirely in sandy habitats and overwinter as adults, resulting in their being active from March onwards. This is much earlier than the vast majority of Pompilidae – the only others around in early spring are similarly overwintering species Priocnemis coriacea, Priocnemis perturbator and Priocnemis susterai. The hibernation occurs in deep burrows.

Prey is varied but consists principally of Lycosidae. The pictured female caught aAnoplius infuscatus female filling in her burrow Trochosa terricola in heather at Thursley National Nature Reserve, hid the spider among the heather while she took 20 minutes excavating a shortish burrow, then returned to transport the prey back. Checking the diameter of the burrow entrance invariably occurs before interment.

Anoplius infuscatus -spider hunting wasp (Cavenham heath NR)

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England and Wales north to South Lancashire, South-west Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. The species has not been found in Ireland but it is present on the larger Channel Islands.

Overseas, the species occurs in Europe, north Africa and east to the Pacific (Wolf, 1972).

Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.

Identification
Day, 1988 is the standard work for identifying British Pompilidae. Wiśniowski, B., 2009 is also useful.

Habitat
A species of moist sand, especially in coastal areas (Day, 1988). Can be abundant in suitable habitats (M Edwards, pers. comm.).

Flight period
Univoltine; June to September.

Prey collected
Mostly spiders of the family Lycosidae are taken, but Agelenidae and Thomisidae are also used.

Nesting biology
Nests are constructed in bare sand. After capture, the single prey item is stored in a tuft of vegetation while the nest is being constructed… BWARS

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Digging in action

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There are so many insects that nest in burrows they dig in the sand / soil you can understand why their numbers are dropping with intensive farming and ploughing so much of the land over and over again or covering with tarmac, and houses.

You can help in your garden by not digging over just pull weeds up by hand disturb the soil as little as possible.

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Spider hunting wasp.