Thread-waisted Wasp - Sceliphron spirifex - Sceliphron

Thread-waisted Wasp – Sceliphron spirifex – Sceliphron

Sporting the colours yellow and black of a normal wasp, this flying insect looks strangely disconnected in flight. The overall length is from 19 to 25mm with part of that made up of a yellow “thread” or pedicel. The body is mainly black with yellow bands on the long legs which hang down in flight. They can be found in Southern Europe and Africa.

Thread-waisted Wasp – Sceliphron spirifex – Sceliphron are solitary wasps and are not aggressive, they do not sting unless threatened or mishandled. The sexes look very similar with the female being slightly larger and with a visible sting.

Thread-waisted Wasp - Sceliphron spirifex - Sceliphron
Thread-waisted Wasp – Sceliphron spirifex – Sceliphron

The female searches out an ideal shelter to create a mud daub nest, by flying repeatedly around an area and finally walking around to be thoroughly sure in her choice. Shade from the sun and shelter from the rain are a priority and this wasp favours old derelict buildings. Fine particles of mud are collected, balled up and flown back to the chosen site. They will search out a damp patch from an irrigation system, pond or puddle, returning frequently during the day to collect more.

Thread-waisted Wasp - Sceliphron spirifex - Sceliphron
Thread-waisted Wasp – Sceliphron spirifex – Sceliphron Collecting mud.
Thread-waisted Wasp - Sceliphron spirifex - Sceliphron
Thread-waisted Wasp – Sceliphron spirifex – Sceliphron Individual cells with larvae inside.

Several cells are connected along side each other, sharing the mud walls, but when finished they are individual, sealed tubes. Small spiders (mostly crab or jumping spiders) are hunted, paralysed by a sting and placed into the mud tube with between 6 and 14 spiders in each cell. Once the female is happy with the amount of food supply she will lay one egg and cap the tube with a layer of mud sealing the spiders and the egg inside. When the egg hatches into a larvae it proceeds to devour the spiders.


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