Methocha articulata Latreille,1792

Description and notes

Previously Methocha ichneumonides (Latreille,1805) Identification keys and general biology are given in Champion & Champion (1914), Richards (1980), Gauld & Bolton (1988) and Yeo & Corbet (1995). Females are wingless, but males are fully winged.

Distribution

South Wales and England north to South-east Yorkshire (Allerthorpe Common), North-east Yorkshire (Strensall Common) and Cumberland (Skirwith). Not recorded in Scotland or Ireland.

Overseas, found in many parts of mainland Europe (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and Hungary) and North Africa.

Status (in Britain only)

A Nationally Notable (Nb) species (Falk 1991).

Habitat

Open sandy areas in warm, sunny situations both on the coast (sand dunes and clay cliffs), and inland (heathland and sand pits).

Flowers visited

Males have been found on umbellifers and thistles.

Parasites

No information available.

Adult activity period

Probably univoltine; adults are most likely to be found during June, July and August, and rarely in May and September.

Parasitic biology

Parasitic on the larvae of tiger beetles (Cicindela campestris, C. maritima and C. sylvatica; probably also on C. germanica on the Dorset coast (G R Else, pers. comm.). Females are often seen running over the surface of the soil loo king for the burrows of their host. When found, the wasp allows the larva to grasp her around her heavily armoured thorax. As the larva comes out of its burrow the wasp bends its abdomen down and stings the larva below the head capsule (BBC film). The larva is quickly immobilised and the wasp then pulls it deeper into the burrow where she lays a single egg on the ventral side, usually behind the coxae of the hind legs. The female wasp fills the burrow with grains of sand, little twigs and small fibrous pieces of humus before leaving.

Author of profile

M E Archer.

Year profile last updated

1998