Monday, 21 January 2013

Alien Life in a Suburban Garden

gasteruption by Lamia textor
Got a bit of a "snow day", you know where everyone in the world apart from teachers manage to get into work irrespective of the weather. Well before you agree, I'm a teacher and I was in school this morning at 7.30am, having walked for 40 minutes to get there, only to be told that the school was closed. Can't say I'm too sad, didn't have any classes today filled with keen biologists, mostly a day trying my damndest to instil a positive work ethic in my D/C borderline maths class and get them through their GCSE. However following on from Lego man (the solitary wasp Cerceris rybyensis) of this weekends post, I show an image I took a year or so ago of the wasp Gasteruption jaculator. You might not agree but I think this fantastic looking parasitic wasp reminds me of the Aliens of the the film of that name. It has a similar crouched posture and slightly humped looking back. Their life history is also pretty impressive. In my garden they home in on the mud sealed holes of the solitary bee Osmia bicornis (Red Mason Bee). They crawl over and around the holes occupied by the larvae of the Bee's feeling with their antenna at each hole in order to determine whether to lay an egg in the hole or not. I don't know how they decide which hole is right to oviposit in, but once selected they insert their ovipositor into the hole and crouch on their hind legs in order to penetrate the hole as deeply as possible. I'm presuming they lay an egg on a reasonably well developed larvae, which the subsequent grub then proceeds to devour. Get yourself Red Mason Bees and I'm sure you'll get these Bad boys girls.

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