3 August 2012

Fishy wasp?

At Soldier's Seat on Brede High Heath (grid ref TQ780207) there is a sunlit patch of bare earth worn by all the people, their children and their dogs who rest a while there.

Yesterday I photographed this small solitary wasp scooting about just above the surface.

20120801 BHW solitary wasp (42)

It is an ornate-tailed digger wasp, Cerceris rybyensis, an identity confirmed by my entomologist friend Steven Falk.

This species is predatory on the small mining bees that build their nests in this area of bare soil.  The wasp catches and stings the bees and buries them in a nest tunnel as food for its larvae.

If you get a chance sit on the seat on a warm sunny day and watch all the action.  It is a good illustration of the importance of bare ground as a habitat as most of the active species cannot complete their development in places where the vegetation forms even the thinnest layer.

'Ryby', incidentally, is the Polish word for 'fish', so the scientific name means 'of the fish'.  Seems a bit improbable, but I cannot find anywhere called 'Ryby', though it can be someone's name.  Perhaps someone can suggest a better reason for the specific name.