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Identifying digger

Cerceris rybyensis

Cerceris rybyensis – Male

I took this photo of this tiny little wasp in my garden back in early July but afterwards really struggled to identify it. My well-thumbed Guide to the Insects of Britain and Europe failed me. I didn’t even get to a genus, although I was pretty sure it was some kind of Digger Wasp. I had a look on the BWARS site, the website of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society but blanked again.

So I sent out a tweet and a picture via the Twittersphere and literally within minutes Ian Beavis @TWBC_Museum got back to me with an identification. He tweeted ‘Cerceris rybyensis – the segment-wide yellow band halfway down abdomen is v distinctive’. Well once I had the name I googled it to look at a range of other pictures and he was absolutely spot-on. Although in my photo the wings obscure this identification feature a little. A few minutes later he kindly tweeted the further tip that ‘as a genus Cerceris stand out for their rounded ‘Michelin-man style’ segments. What a gentlemen.

So this little fellow is a Digger Wasp Cerceris rybyensis, as I suspected, possibly a male. Digger Wasps are solitary wasps commonly associated with sandy soils and chalk grassland. They generally prey on small and medium-sized bees returning to their nests with pollen which they paralyse by stinging. They are largely confined to southern Britain.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Geo #

    I spotted a pair of these engaged in a fierce battle yesterday. The bright yellow bands on both wasps caught my eye as they twisted and turned wrapped round each other. They rolled over and over, round and round and looked as though they were trying to sting each other. They were fighting in the border at the edge of my lawn. A third wasp was nearby but flew off before I could reach for my phone to take a picture. I did manage a picture of the battle though. I watched them for a good few minutes before they separated and one flew off. How long they had been fighting before I got there, I don’t know.
    I have sandy soil but live in north Cumbria, a long way from the south of England. It must be the hot summer that has brought them north.

    August 5, 2018

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