Wasps and Hover-less Flies!
Sitting in the garden one beautifully sunny day I noticed a number of very small, very strange insects crawling about on the patio paving. The creatures had six legs, so they were insects, but they did not appear to have two other things that we usually associate with the class Insecta – namely: wings and an abdomen.
After watching two or three of the hapless creatures crawling aimlessly about on the warm flag stones for awhile, I came to the conclusion that they were hoverflies - or at least they had been earlier – hovering that is! Most people, including yours truly, like to watch these wonderful insects hovering, like miniature helicopters, in the garden on a hot Summer’s day. So why did the ones crawling about on the ground cause my confusion? The answer to this question was brought about when I watched the behaviour of several wasps.
All of the wasps I watched were identical and that made me think that they probably came from the same nest. What they were doing was diving down suddenly on any hoverflies that had settled upon the wooden beams of the pergola above my head. Then the wasps descended rapidly to the ground, still hanging on to the back of their victim. Once grounded, the wasps used their sharp jaws to quickly nip off an individual hoverfly’s wings and then, rather grotesquely, to bite through the thin body section that joins the fly’s abdomen to its thorax!
The wasp then flew off, presumably to its nest, carrying beneath it just the unfortunate hoverfly’s abdomen. I knew that wasps feed their young on caterpillars and grubs, so I assumed that these abdomens would soon be fed to the voracious wasp larvae awaiting lunch in the wasp nest.
I have never read or heard of this wasp behaviour before, but I assure you that the grisly act I saw one pleasant Summer day, was repeated several times before my eyes. As you can imagine I was completely distracted from reading the paperback novel in my hands for more than a few minutes.
For an exciting story about schoolchildren who save a hedgehog and work hard to protect the wildlife in their school's Nature Corner, then Click Here for the LINK to So What's Next!