Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ichneumon wasp




Earlier this week we found this menacing-looking wasp high up in the Pennine moorlands near Alston in Cumbria. I wasn't too certain of its identity and thought it might be a digger wasp, but thanks to the kindness of Africa Gomez (check out her BugBlog site, it's excellent) I now know that it's a large ichneumon called Amblyteles armatorius, which lays its eggs on moth larvae, which the grubs then feed on.  Gruesome. Magnificent antennae, though. 

Apparently it usually spends most of its time on hogweed umbels and some sources say that it's a lowland species, so the fact that it was grounded and living at high altitude led me astray with the ID.

You can find more information on this insect by clicking here and here 

8 comments:

  1. What a grand find and the photos in the link are wonderful.

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  2. Great post Phil. Saw something very similar to this in Colorado, USA, although it had black legs and black (rather than orange) colouration in the wings. I was totally in awe at the time as I watched them drag caterpillars into their holes - had no idea that we had similar wasps in UK!

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  3. Hi Phil, wow, what a wonderful photo and amazing wasp. I do not think it is Ammophila though, which has short, thin and curved antennae, is black and red-orange with all black legs. I have checked Wasps of Surrey and Solitary wasps by Yeo and Corbet and the most similar I could find is Argogorytes mystaceus, although the abdominal colour pattern is different. You could try iSpot for an ID. I've subscribed to the comments in this post as I am quite interested in the ID.

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  4. Spotted it beside the road where we were having a picnic lunch Adrian.

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  5. Hi Richard, I took several photos and in some you can see it moving small stones around using its jaws. I think digger wasps temporarily block their tunnel entrance with small stones while they're provisioning the nest ...

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  6. I did have my doubts Africa, because of those long antennae and the yellow rather that orange-red markings. Will try iSPOT......I waas very surprised to see it on high moorland ... have only ever seen digger wasps in this country on the Norfolk coast...

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  7. Hi again Phil, your wasp kept nagging me, so I did your usual Google search 'yellow and black wasp long antennae', and found Amblyteles armatorius as a quite good match, but no digger wasp at all, but an Ichneumon wasp.
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amblyteles.armatorius.-.lindsey.jpg

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