insects

Looks innocent enough!

However, if of a squeamish disposition — do not continue.

Green Tiger Beetle Cicindela campestris

The clue is in the name — it’s not got black and yellow stripes — it’s a ferocious predator and so is it’s baby which lives in a burrow with only its face showing which will grab any passing creature, like an ant, and munch it up with its formidable jaws.

These lavae become fat and juicy on their diet of hapless insects but if they are unlucky enough to encounter their own specific ichneumon wasp, Methoca ichneumoides, they in turn meet a horrible end. Life is like that! Here is one who has met a sticky end, lying on its back showing its terrible jaws.

Methoca ichneumenoides on lava of Cicindela , photographed by Albert Krebs (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Methoca ichneumenoides came along and allowed the beetle lava to pull it into its burrow but then stung it, which paralysed the beetle lava, Methoca then laid a single egg in the body and filled up the top of the burrow with sand. Here you see that the the egg has hatched and the live lava of the wasp has eaten its way out and is chomping on the beetle lava. I suspect the pair were both dug up by a nosey human like me and photographed without permission!

We did not find an example of Methoca on Dunwich Heath last week but we did see another interesting wasp there last time we visited, the red banded sand wasp. It has similar habits.

Red banded sand wasp Ammophila sabulosa

Click anyway — I think it will work — otherwise search red banded sand wasp on Wikipedia!

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