Tag Archive | cuckoo wasp

Sleeping Cuckoo Wasps!


Last time I got up close with sleeping Hymenoptera, I was shooting Nomada, also known as cuckoo bees. Friday night, about 100 m from my new apartment, I shot some Chrysididae, also known as cuckoo wasps or jewel wasps, which are also nest parasites of stinging Hymenoptera. These gorgeous little wasps are super tough (if you have ever pinned them) with a highly sculptured cuticle and the ability to roll up in a little ball, presumably for defense while dealing with stinging hosts. Peering at a series of pinned cuckoo wasps in Intro Entomology was a big part in winning me over to study insects!

Unlike other sleeping hymenopterans I have shot (Coelioxys, Megachile, Nomada and Ammophila), these guys seem to use their ball-rolling muscles to cling on to the grasses. Because they were so small, I was wishing for more magnification…I could not even find my extension tubes!


These wasps are some of the most gorgeous insects around.


Here you can see the wasp’s feet clinging on, as well as the concave abdomen which also facilitates the defensive posture.



I tried getting both of them to sleep on the same flower, but they seemed to maintain a sizable personal space. While I was doing this, late-foraging yellowjjacket queens were examining the tops of the grasses as well. There were also many sleeping blowflies on the grasses, which may have been what the yellowjackets were hunting for.


Here the two cuckoo’s are finally settling down again. They both appear to be male, with 13 segments on the antennae.


A bit of stretching before bed.


They seem to be connected by a detached bit of spider silk.



In the morning I went back to the site, and both were still on the same plant. Here one of the wasps cleans his eye.


And appears to be ready to start the day!




Weekend Expedition 48: Iona and McDonald Beach, Pacific Spirit Park


Ochlerotatus dorsalis, a saltmarsh breeding mosquito, is abundant at both McDonald and Iona Beach. This one was particularly persistent and bit readily on my hand.

This weekend, Catherine and I made a few quick trips around the area to hit some of our favourite haunts. The weather was nice, but after a long week including a move back to the Lower Mainland, we were not up for major exertion. Here are some of the cool things we saw.


An dew-covered weevil at McDonald Beach.


Here is another shot of the Ochlerotatus dorsalis. This light-coloured, day-biting mosquito is super-pretty.


The forest of Pacific Spirit Park was full of harvestmen. They could be found on almost every bush along the trail we walked.


This sac spider posed for at least a few frames before dropping to the ground.


A freshly emerged muscoid fly. You can see the ptilinum poking out from the front of its face (just above teh antennae), which it used to pop the cap off its puparium.


A particularly robust springtail on a fallen leaf.


This damsel bug appears to be feeding on some kind of nematoceran fly.


At Iona Beach, there are oodles of non biting midges (Chironomidae) as there are sewage ponds nearby as well as less-polluted man-made ponds.


A male zebra jumper.


This cuckoo wasp was diligently exploring every nook and cranny in this dead log, looking for a host nest for her eggs.


I love the metallic sheen on these. They are also notable for having a very hard exoskeleton, a trait shared with other nest parasites such as velvet ants (Mutillidae).


This shot is pretty cute!



Osprey are always hunting around the ponds at Iona, and this one made several flybys.


The Yellow headed Blackbird can be found at Iona, one of the only places on the coast where it occurs.