Observation of the Week, 8/26/80



Our Observation of the Week is this beautiful mother Auplopus wasp, seen in the Sai Kung District of Hong Kong by @wklegend!

“I love nature dated back to my childhood but it was limited only on reading books and watching videos,” recalls Keith Chen (wklegend). “In Hong Kong, the only way to experience nature is to go to the rural areas. Three years ago, I decided to experience the nature with my camera. I took photos of all kinds of creatures. Now I focus on observations of insects and the habit seems [to have turned] into an addiction.”

Keith was on a trip to the Sai Kung district of Hong Kong, and says “I noticed a small wasp handling its prey not far from me. It belongs to one kind of spider wasp that I have never seen before. I approached it carefully and took some photos. The wasp was using its jaws to pick its prey of a spider without legs...I think my movement alerted the wasp, it picked the prey and quickly flew into the bushes. I did not want to disturb it anymore and left the place.”

Like many wasps, the Auplopus wasp that Keith observed is parasitic for part of its life. It belongs to the Pompilidae family, known as “Spider wasps” because of their predilection for spiders as larval hosts. A pompilid female will paralyze a spider with her stinger than drag it to a nest. She’ll then lay an egg on the paralyzed spider and seal up the nest (sometimes with dead ants to deter predators!); once the egg hatches, the larva will eat the still-living spider saving the essential organs for last. This keeps the host alive and fresh for as long as possible. The larva will then pupate and emerge the next year. As an adult, most pompilids feed on nectar or honeydew for energy. Some pompilids, like those in the Auplopus genus that Keith captured, use their powerful mandibles to snip off the host spider’s legs - all the better for transporting to the nest!

Keith (pictured above) at first know which type of wasp he had observed, but @barthelemy, another iNaturalist user, steered him in the right direction. “Thanks to Mr. Barthelemy as he suggested that it was an Auplopus wasp,” says Keith.

- by Tony Iwane


- Pompilid spiders are known to take down prey larger than they are; here’s a mother dragging a nice-sized spider away.

- Check out this Auplopus and her crazy nest from Namibia!

- Nice blog post on pompilids.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, August 27, 2017 04:34 AM

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