Rare and beautiful wildlife underfoot - digger wasps!

It’s a common misconception that RSPB just looks after birds. It’s not true – we look after habitats where wildlife lives, birds yes but much, much more…  

Take bees and wasps for example. Not those annoying brutes that circle around the jam on your scone! At The Lodge, there are well over 200 species of bees and wasps, many of whom live extraordinary lives in the bare, sandy ground that we have provided for them.  

Our local expert, Will George, has been checking out digger-wasps at The Lodge.

 ‘After several months away, it felt fantastic to get at the end of July and see what was about. A patch of bare sand near the wild play area was proving a popular bit of real estate, as the ground was riddled with holes of various sizes, each dug to provide a nest for a bee or wasp. I settled in to see who the owners of each hole were. 

 ‘Digger wasps were the most common, especially the ornate-tailed digger wasp, Cerceris rybyensis which ambushes solitary bees and stocks its nest holes with them. There were also a few sand-tailed digger wasps, Cerceris arenaria, and the rarer five-banded digger wasp, Cerceris quinquefasciata, both of which prey on weevils.

‘After that, I was surprised and excited to find a slender-bodied digger wasp, Crabro cribrarius, whose name really doesn’t do justice to its wacky appearance! The front legs are bizarrely swollen into shield-like shapes, which are apparently used during mating to cover the females’ eyes!’ 

Best wishes,

Peter

  • We've been enjoying all the diggers & miners along Digger Alley at Minsmere recently too (see the recent threads on the Minsmere pages).  C. arenaria we've taken to calling Weevil Wolves as a nod to the now famous Beewolves (it's more accurate and less confusing with the Sand Wasps that take caterpillars), though curiously there seem to be fewer around the Alley this year than normal (no shortage of other species).  Have you found the same or is it just a localised phenomenon?

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  • In reply to Whistling Joe:

    Will replied:

    Not sure I’ve been on the reserve enough this year to comment, although I would say that I’ve seen more Cerceris arenaria in previous years than seemed to be around this year, and that in recent years Cerceris rybyensis has tended to be by far the most common of the Cerceris species on the reserve.

    Best wishes,

    Peter