Hi everyone at Prospect Creek State School! I hope Term 4 is going really well.
I have been busy sorting the trap samples I picked up when Alana and I visited you in October – thanks again for letting us visit your beautiful school!
This is what the first sample looked like when I poured it into a sorting tray:
My first step was to sort out ALL the ladybugs… of which there were A LOT!
This species, which was in your trap in the hundreds, is called Micraspis frenata, the striped ladybird beetle.
As well as all the ladybird beetles, there were some other cool beetles in the sample also.
The one with the long snout is called a weevil!
There were also LOTS of different wasps – as well as several species of the wasps that I study (hopefully we find a new species!), there were tiny little parasitic wasps, some big spider-hunting wasps called pompilid wasps, and everything in between!
The wasp in the red circle above is called a bethylid wasp, from the family Bethylidae. It is flattened (can you see it’s a bit flat looking, especially the head and thorax?) and has really strong chunky front legs? Can you think of any reasons why it might be flat and have big strong front legs?
These wasps are parasitoids of beetle and moth larvae, which are often hidden under bark or between leaf litter, so being flat might help the bethlyid wasps squeeze into tight spaces to find their hosts (the larvae they want to lay their eggs on, for their babies to eat when they hatch). The strong front legs might be for grabbing hold of the beetle or moth larvae and holding them still whilst they lay their eggs on them, for moving the hosts around, and and for being able to push leaves and bark out the way whilst they’re searching for the larvae.
There were five specimens of Microgastrinae, the group of wasps I work on, in the trap! These are wasps that attack caterpillars, and lay their eggs in them. The baby wasps hatch out inside the caterpillars (baby wasps look like little wriggling whit maggots) and then eat the caterpillar from the inside out!
I will look more closely at these wasp specimens and see if we can identify what species they are!
Looking forward to sorting your next trap – comment below with any questions you might have and I’ll do my best to answer them!