Wasp is causing a buzz at nature site

PUBLISHED: 12:10 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:11 06 May 2010

The wasp - but it doesn't sting humans

The wasp - but it doesn't sting humans

SUMMER will certainly have a sting in the tail for one Sandy resident. The resident in question is episyron gallicum, or in layman s terms, a rare wasp that is normally found in countries bordering the Mediterranean. But before you race for the bug spray

SUMMER will certainly have a sting in the tail for one Sandy resident.

The resident in question is episyron gallicum, or in layman's terms, a rare wasp that is normally found in countries bordering the Mediterranean.

But before you race for the bug spray or swatter, this wasp does not sting humans.

Yes, it has a potent sting in its tail but it uses it as part of its breeding cycle, zapping another insect that gives many people nightmares - spiders.

The wasp hunts for its prey - its favourite is spiders - on the ground and paralyses it with its sting, lays an egg on it and seals the body inside a tunnel where the larva hatches using the spider or other insect as a source of food.

The insect was spotted in Britain for the first time last year, at the RSPB site in Sandy overlooking the Potton Road.

The red-legged wasp was seen buzzing around the nature site after work by Lafarge Aggregates had been completed on the Sandy Heath quarry, much to the delight of bug hunters.

Other rare insects were also discovered at the same time by ornithologists, making the Sandy site one of intense interest and in some cases rewriting the insect books of Britain.

Now as the weather begins to warm up, this year's first sitings are being eagerly anticipated as it is believed a colony of the wasps, blown in by warm southerly winds, are waiting to make an appearance during the next few weeks.

"We are very excited the wasp has decided to settle here," said RSPB site manager Peter Bradley.

"LeFarge have obviously completed their work very well leaving the site perfect for invertebrates to thrive. The sandy soil is ideal not just for the wasp but many other insects.

"This is the crème de la crème of wasps as it only flies in very high summer, it is black and red and is not the sort that goes after people.

"Hopefully, we will see a lot of the wasp during the summer and also a lot of visitors here will be able to see it as well as many of the rare invertebrates that have been found.


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