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Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis

Clytus arietis

Here’s an interesting beetle I found at Langford Lakes back in May. The Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis is one of the longhorn flower beetles and a convincing wasp-mimic. Both the protective yellow and black colouration and its wasp-like movements give it some protection from predatory birds. If you see it quickly scuttling over vegetation looking for flowers full of nectar and pollen, where it often imitates the distinctive sideways walk of the wasp, it’s not surprising if at first glance this fast-moving insect is mistaken for a jasper.

This type of deception where a harmless insect imitates a potentially more dangerous one is called Batesian mimicry and is named after the English naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892).

The wood-boring larvae feed on the dead and decaying wood of deciduous trees which have been invaded by a particular species of fungus, particularly old branches and rotting fenceposts. The adults emerge in late spring – early summer and fly well in sunshine but are relatively short-lived, so you’ll be lucky to find many by late August. The best place to look for them is along woodland rides and sunny hedgerows where there are plenty of wild flowers.

If like me you have a wood burning stove you may occasionally find a few wasp beetles in your house that have hatched out of logs brought in to dry out ready for winter.

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