Thursday, 29 August 2013

Methocha articulata - a wingless wasp that hunts Tiger beetle larvae

Late summer Tiger Beetle Budby Heath August 2013 - the larva of this beetle fall prey to the wasp Methocha articulata

Never previously recorded at Sherwood this wingless wasp paralyses larva of the green Tiger Beetle "Cicindlea campestris" in their burrows.  Its plan of attack is also a little special.  It allows the cicindelid larva to lock its jaws around its body.  However its hard exoskeleton prevents damage.  The wasp then stings the larva, paralysing it back into the larva's own burrow, where it lays an egg on the defenceless host.  Pretty impressive don't you agree.  

Methocha articulata - Budby Heath 29th August 2013 
I'm not quite sure why they have never been noted on the Heath before.  However they do not appear in the excellent list of Nottinghamshire invertebrates by Carr, published in 1916, nor in his 1930's supplement. It is also not noted on the NBN database.  In my opinion probably long overlooked, as a wingless wasp probably doesn't have the greatest powers of dispersal.  Interestingly, winged males are known. 

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