Thursday, 3 September 2015

Day 295 - Fascinating and Dashingly Wonderful Field Digger Wasps

Female Field Digger Wasp (Mellinus arvensis)
Hey everyone today's Day 295 and in your garden, there's so many different species. Someone I met at Birdfair said to me that he had 1000 species in his garden. This person is called Dr. Roger Key and he lives not too far away from me. Roger is extremely knowledgeable about insects and I hope to go on some bug hunts with him. Now when I asked him what this was,  he said it was a Female Field Digger Wasp or, the Mellinus arvensis. I saw this lovely looking creature when on a walk at Ripon. There was a lovely sandy bank down to a pool in the beck there. It was flying around the sand when it caught my eye 

So here are the facts:
  • This particular Digger Wasp is actually the Field Digger wasp and is one of the commonest of its type.
Bug caught - looking for a place to dig
  • Now, its type is actually a solitary wasp. These are basically wasps that don't live in groups. the only live in their own.
  • They are found quite commonly in the South of England getting less common the further North you go, it seems most common in Ireland on the East coast.
  • This Wasp flies quite late in the year, from July to October but is most common in August and September..
  • They are actually quite small, only being 12mm long, their wings, when folded up, are 8mm so their wingspan would be 16mm.
  • Their family is actually Crabronidae but Roger told me the families can change because about a year ago their family was Specidae.
Still looking
  • Roger actually told me what it was that it was doing. Now I said at the start they are a nice looking creature but this bit is a little gruesome.  
  • It has caught a dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria and this is part of its life cycle. It hunts them on piles of dung, walking across the dung and leaping on its prey.
  • The digger wasp paralyses the fly with its sting and lays an egg on it and buries it in the sand in nests which are as much as 30-40cm underground.
  • The egg then hatches and the larvae eats the fly while it grows, the fly remember is just paralysed and is still alive!
    Here you can see the dung fly better
Here are some links to some more information:

BWARS - Digger Wasps

Wikipeida - Digger Wasps - This one doesn't have much

Natural History Museum - Digger Wasps

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Amazing captures Zach - I've never seen one myself before! Looks amazing! - Tasha

  2. Great stuff, Zach! I have met Dr. Roger Key, he's a good friend of mine and a really nice guy. Oh, by the way, thanks for the follow on Twitter! :-)