Wasp Nest Beetle - Metoecus paradoxus

Description

This is a rather odd-looking, almost fly-like, insect about 10 mms long with narrow pointed elytra which do not completely cover the wings or abdomen. It has feathery antennae and is a parasite of wasps' nests.

Identification difficulty
Habitat

Normally associated with underground wasps' nests but several have been found emerging from wasps' nests in house roof spaces.

When to see it

The adults emerge during the summer months.

Life History

This species has a fascinating life history which was only worked out in Victorian times. The adult lays eggs on rotting wood in the hope that a wasp will visit to harvest wood fibre for its nest. If one does, the beetle larva tries to climb onto the back of the wasp and is transported to the nest. It then seeks out a wasp grub and parasitises it. The beetle grows and pupates and emerges as an adult just after the time the wasp would have done. More details

UK Status

This species is widespread but not common in Britain.

VC55 Status

Uncommon in Leicestershire and Rutland. There were only 7 VC55 records for this species up to March 2015.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map

MAP KEY:

Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map