This dainty wasp belongs to the genus Ammophila, which like the black and yellow mud dauber is a hunting wasp in the Family Sphecidae, captured and presented here for your viewing pleasure using my trusty Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM illuminated by Canon MT-24EX macro twin light flash.
Popularly known as Sand wasps (ámathos – sand, phila – lover) owing to their affinity for nesting in sandy soil, members of the family are also referred to as ‘Thread-waisted wasps’, but the name is not definitive, as many members of the family Sphecidae are thread-waisted and called as such. Sand wasp, like many wasps, dig holes in sandy soil and place at the bottom a paralyzed prey item, on which they lay an egg.
While a wide variety of digging wasps use flies, beetles, spiders, grasshoppers, cicadas and other such prey items to stock their nest larders; Ammophila species prefer caterpillars. Also, unlike other hunting/digging wasp species, Ammophila adults do not leave conspicuous piles of loose soil next to their burrow entrances, carefully carrying away and disposing it as they excavate, thereby rendering their nurseries inconspicuous to predators and parasites. Adult wasps feed on nectar and pollen and are often seen on flowers.
Ammophila is a large and cosmopolitan genus, with over 200 species occurring in the warmer regions of all continents except Antarctica. They are medium-sized wasps of strikingly slender build, with antennae about as long as the head and thorax. The jaws, while not large, are exceptionally strong and apart from feeding and digging, are often utilized for such exceptional purposes as holding a pebble with which the wasp hammers down soil to seal a nest or to grip plant stems at night, with the body held at right-angles, legs tucked underneath, the mandibles bearing the entire weight of the insect’s body.
Thanks to Javed Ahmed for helping me to write this blog.