Tree Following: Tinsel-Faced Squatters

Okay, we’re talking wasps again, but its purely coincidence – and none of the aposematic stingy ladies we’ve been exploring this week – this is a whole new side to wasps – a solitary life squatting in existing holes in dead wood.  You can see them in the photo above.  See those little guys?  Okay, squint and lean in – see them?  One flying in bottom left and the other flying out towards the top…  Shall we zoom in?  Here you go…

This, believe it or not, is a wasp – a tiny wasp that makes its home in the 1mm wide holes left behind by emerging wood-boring beetles.  Its name is Stigmus pendulus and its what I’ve been waiting for all year – this little wasp is the reason I chose a dead tree to follow – for saproxylic insects.  And I couldn’t have had a better first waspy resident – as Stigmus pendulus is a Red Data Book (RDB) species.  It was first recorded in the UK in 1986 and has been given its RDB designation because not enough about it is known.  But its distribution is such that (at least for the moment) Merrions Wood and the Following Tree are right on the edge of its range.  Its been recorded once in Sandwell Valley’s Sot’s Hole, which is not far away at all (as the wasp flies). So lets go in for the beauty shot…  

This species, like many solitary wasps, has metallic hairs on its face (ergo Tinsel Face Wasps!) and beautiful, large eyes.  I am still waiting on verification of my record, as the process of determining records is vital for accurate species information, but I can get this done on Wednesday, and will let you know if/when its confirmed.

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