When is a wasp not a wasp? When it s a hoverfly, UK news, The Guardian

When is a wasp not a wasp? When it’s a hoverfly

The marmalade hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus). Photograph: Ben Hamers, courtesy of Buglife — The Invertebrate Conservation Trust Photograph: Ben Hamers, courtesy of Buglife — The Invertebrate Conservation Trust

Millions of marmalade hoverflies have crossed from the continent on warm thermals, causing havoc on beaches and seafronts where children and families have mistaken their banded black-and-yellow colouring for wasps.

«It was just horrific,» said esplanade shopkeeper Jeanette King, a former mayor of Walton on the Naze in Essex where the «marmalades» — harmless and the commonest of Britain’s 270 species of hoverfly — came ashore at the weekend.

«Children were screaming, people were covering up prams and pushchairs. If you stopped still for a moment, you could get covered in them. I was told that it was the same all the way to Kirby le Soken, and that’s quite a step [away].» Drifts of the hoverflies also piled up along the foreshore between Walton and Clacton, as insects which had failed to make the Channel crossing were washed up by the tide.

«Unfortunately that’s one of the sights laid on by the insect world when there’s a big migration like this,» said Austin Brackenbury, whose hoverfly records compiled at a railway signal box near Sheffield are part of one of the biggest and most thorough databases devoted to any British insect.

«The hoverfly is completely benign and a very important pollinator. It only visits flowers and honeydew and its larva do a great job of keeping aphids down.»

Named after thick-cut marmalade, which its banding resembles, the commonest hoverfly — like its relatives — cannot harm anyone, let alone a fly. Mr Brackenbury said: «Its mouth parts are designed for mopping-up; there’s no way it could bite. It doesn’t have a sting and it won’t give you itches or anything like that.

«People would do better to keep an eye out for ‘white-faced wasps’ — the ordinary variety which end up with white faces exactly like clowns, because they get covered with pollen from willowherb and the like.»

Telling the hoverflies from the wasps is a problem, however, according to Roger Morris of English Nature, one of the country’s leading experts on the insects — officially the Syrphidae sub-family of Diptera, or flies. He said: «The wasp-like colouring is a defence against predators like birds and it is extremely successful. So in Britain in the summer, you are much more likely to meet a hoverfly than a wasp.»

The main difference is invisible to the lay observer, given that most encounters happen when the wasp or fly is airborne: wasps have four wings, hoverflies two. More obviously, wasps are «wasp- waisted» while the hoverfly’s thorax and abdomen are divided by less of a narrowed section or have none at all.

«Both insects have a whine unfortunately,» said Mr Morris, «but hoverflies are less aggressive than wasps. They are also less inclined to come to sweet things [the bane of a picnic will probably be a wasp].»

Hoverflies are also, not surprisingly, more skilled at hovering and do it — along with flying sideways — more than wasps. Mass migrations happen every four to five years in Britain, usually when favourable weather coincides with a rise in the aphid population here and in Europe.

Mike Solomon, another hoverfly expert based at East Malling horticultural research centre in Kent, said: «They’re something to welcome, even if large numbers of any insect can initially be alarming. I’m afraid that anything flying which looks black and yellow gets a bad press, but hoverflies definitely don’t deserve it.»

The common wasp

· Named by Linnaeus 1758 but known since the first sting

· Lives in nests of 5,000 or so but has never mastered the winter food storage methods of the honeybee. Colonies collapse in autumn through cold. Only young fertilised female queens survive winter, emerging in April

· Distinctive pattern: black bands alternate with yellow, which each have two spots. The yellow face, framed by «bull’s horn» antennae, has a distinctive yellow anchor mark. Four wings produce trademark whine. Sting in tail

· Flies by day, foraging for larvae, insects, scraps of meat etc. Lives colony life much like bees.

· Sting not usually severe but can cause anaphylactic shock which can be fatal

The marmalade hoverfly

· Named in 1776 by the Swedish Baron Carl de Geer, who identified hundreds of insects

· Scores maximum points for environmental behaviour: flies are exceptional pollinators, and the larvae a very effective predator of aphids. They also eat decayed matter, freeing minerals for use by plants

· Flies live as individuals, laying eggs in aphid colonies

· Black and yellow or orange- banded, but unlike wasps have only two wings and no waist

· They fly only by day, and not in intense heat. Like garden plants. Live only for a maximum of a few weeks, and have many predators, but breed freely and produce repeated generations throughout the summer. Britain has 270 species

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Wasps

Wasps are any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. The Apocrita have a common evolutionary ancestor and form a clade; wasps as a group do not form a clade, but are paraphyletic with respect to bees and ants.

The most commonly known wasps, such as yellow jackets and hornets, are in the family Vespidae and are eusocial, living together in a nest with an egg-laying queen and non-reproducing workers. Eusociality is favoured by the unusual haplodiploid system of sex determination in Hymenoptera, as it makes sisters exceptionally closely related to each other. However, the majority of wasp species are solitary, with each adult female living and breeding independently. Many of the solitary wasps are parasitoidal, meaning that they raise their young by laying eggs on or in other insects (any life stage from egg to adult). Unlike true parasites, the wasp larvae eventually kill their hosts. Solitary wasps parasitize almost every pest insect, making wasps valuable in horticulture for biological pest control of species such as whitefly in tomatoes and other crops.

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Wasp insect. Description, features, lifestyle and habitat of wasp

Description and Features

Wasp has a bright color. The drawing on her body is an alternation of black areas with yellow stripes on the body, as well as a similar color pattern on the head and six legs.

Common wasp

This outfit, unfortunately, suggests that this creature is poisonous. Usually, it is customary to name wasps as all stinging flying insects belonging to the suborder of stalked and bellied, with the exception of bees.

Everything wasp on the picture look the same, however, as well as live, but may vary in size. They have four transparent wings arranged in pairs. In addition, they have a very powerful oral apparatus and facet type eyes, providing the insect with excellent vision. On their feet you can observe claws, allowing such creatures to catch and hold on a variety of surfaces.

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With the enemies that exist in the wasp in nature: mammals, birds, lizards and others, this insect has two ways to fight. First of all, the bright color itself serves as a powerful defense.

It scares the enemy, and hunters of different stripes, hungry for prey, lose their appetite when they look at the wasps. Just coloring them in many living things causes unpleasant associations.

Paper wasp

But even if one of the predators foolishly makes attempts to feast on such an insect, after the first misfire, their desire completely disappears. Just the feeling is not very pleasant. And therefore, subsequently, enemies cease making attempts to hunt wasps, having developed a warning reflex in themselves.

But in addition to passive methods of protection, these insects also have active methods. And their poisonous sting helps them in this — an autonomous organ that looks like a dagger blade in appearance and principle of action.

He freely sticks under the skin of the animal, while also without difficulty comes out, pre-injecting his portion of the poison. This organ is located at the end of the abdomen, like a bee, because it is very wasp-like insect, also able to sting.

But the bites of these two poisonous creatures have a number of differences primarily for themselves. Unlike bees that die, at least once using their sharp weapons and leaving it in the body of the enemy, the wasps remain alive.

The photo shows how a wasp stings a person

Moreover, they feel great after a bite and are quite capable of making a new attack. In addition, wasps are endowed with the opportunity to launch not only stings, but powerful jaws during an attack. But, like the bees, these insects, smelling the poison poisoned by a fellow in the enemy’s body, will certainly enter the battle, collectively attacking the object that caused the alarm.

Externally, these insects are certainly similar, but to distinguish them is not very difficult, even by color. If a yellow wasp with black, the stripes on the bee’s body have a slightly different shade, with the addition of orange tones.

Types of wasps

Zoologists described a huge number of varieties of wasps. They differ in the pattern located on the head, usually in front of it. The pattern in most cases is distinguished by clarity, but its shape may be very different. For example, an ordinary wasp has a pattern in the form of an anchor.

Black wasp

Everything types of wasps belong to one of two categories: public representatives of these insects and solitary. What this means will be discussed in the future. First, we describe some of the representatives of these types. And start with the first one.

Paper wasp is a group that includes many subfamilies. About 60 such species are found in the central regions of Europe alone, and there are about a thousand of them around the world.

These insects are also called simply social wasps, because they live in colonies, which have a cohesive and very interesting social structure.

Wasp rider

And their first name — «paper» such wasps deserved because of the way in which they build their nests. This will also be discussed.

Hornets — this is the name of the whole genus from the group of paper wasps. Moreover, its representatives are notable for their considerable size, reaching a length of 55 cm (but these are the largest). Such insects inhabit the Northern Hemisphere, considered to be extinct today, and therefore it is clear that they are not common.

Wasp hornet

Wasp hornet has a considerable width of the top of the head and a rounded abdomen in comparison with other relatives. The poison of such insects is incredibly effective, and therefore their bites are extremely painful. And, as a rule, medical assistance is provided to a person who has suffered from them.

These attacks are all the more dangerous because such an insect can make several injections of poison in a row. Deaths are frequent in people affected by such attacks. Hornets have recently been ranked as real wasps — a family that also includes the subfamilies Vespina and Polistina.

Single wasps, as the name itself broadcasts, differ from social relatives by a natural predisposition to a secluded existence. These insects include the following subfamilies of the aspen kingdom, which are worthy of special mention.

Flower wasp

1. Flower wasp — small creatures, the length of which usually does not exceed a centimeter. Their food is pollen and nectar of flowers. They build their nests from sand and clay, wetting them with saliva.

Their life cycle, including the larval stage, is about two years. In total, about a hundred varieties of such wasps are known. Usually they spin in places where there is a source of food for them, that is, flowers.

2. Sand wasp. Species of such insects, in comparison with those just described, are much larger. There are about 8800 of them in the world. Their body length can be quite small, about half a centimeter.

Sand wasp

But there are instances and larger. Their sizes reach 2 cm. They are found mainly in the tropics. They feed on insects, previously paralyzing them with their poison. Nests are built in the ground.

The body of most wasps is distinguished by a black and yellow gamut. But there are exceptions, because on the earth live specimens of unusual colors. For instance, black wasps. These insects can be large or medium in size.

Their poison is extremely toxic. They are found mainly in the tropics, but there are varieties that perfectly take root in colder areas. The favorite prey of such creatures are spiders, which they hunt with great skill. And the meat of the victims is used to feed the larvae.

Wasp Pelopeia

In nature, there are also white and red wasp. They are also considered to be absolutely dangerous for representatives of the human race.

Lifestyle & Habitat

Os can be found almost everywhere, in almost every corner of the planet, with the exception of areas particularly unsuitable for life. They prefer to live near a person, because in the immediate vicinity of people and their homes there is always something to feast on.

Now it’s time to talk more about the social structure inherent in paper wasps. It is these representatives of the diversity of species that have already been described that should be given special attention, because when they talk about wasps, they usually mean wild social wasps. Although this is not entirely correct.

The groups into which these insects gather for joint life are close-knit families called colonies. They can have up to 20 thousand members. In such families, a clearly streamlined social structure and division into castes reigns with a certain range of responsibilities.

Wasps and their honeycombs

The uterus is engaged in breeding offspring. Working wasps look after the larvae, feed the rest of the family and guard the common house. The uterus builds a nest out of material resembling paper.

It is produced naturally by the wasps themselves, by chopping wood and mixing this material with its own saliva. Powerful jaws help these creatures build nests.

Such the uterus is able to finely grind a hard tree. Working wasps and drones have an average size of about 18 mm, but the uterus of these insects is slightly larger. Male and female individuals are colored approximately the same, but in females the abdomen is somewhat larger. Single wasps may not build nests, but use minks made by other insects and small rodents.

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Wasp certainly a useful insect, successfully destroying the larvae of flies, garden and domestic pests. Eating them, wasps are indispensable, performing their natural function. This becomes especially important in seasons when there are too many harmful insects for natural reasons.

Wasps prefer to eat fruits from plant food, consuming their flesh and juices, as well as plant nectar. This type of food fully satisfies the needs of working wasps.

But they do not so much strive to get enough of themselves as they primarily feed the uterus and its offspring. This is their responsibility. Feeding the wasp larvae, they can also feed on their burps, if it suddenly turns out that there was not enough food for them.

Especially with food it becomes difficult in the autumn, because small insects already disappear during this period. And here wasps, to get food, often show extraordinary courage and ingenuity.

Closer to autumn, they can often be seen flying in large numbers near human housing. They spin there, trying to feast on something from the table of people or some waste.

Reproduction and longevity

Mating of the uterus of the aspen nest, occurring in the autumn period, occurs around October. The males of these insects are called drones, as in bees. The purpose of such a caste of the colony is to mate with the uterus.

They have no other duties. In the fall, the uterus has contact with several drones at once, and receiving their sperm, stores it in its body until the next spring. The males, having fulfilled their natural purpose, soon die. And the uterus for the entire period of severe frost and cold falls into suspended animation.

With the arrival of heat, she, waking up from hibernation, immediately proceed to the trouble of arranging the nest. From what material the dwelling of an aspen family is built, it has already been said, it should only be added that it consists, like in bees, of cells.

First, the uterus looks for a suitable place for the nest, and then it is engaged in the construction of honeycombs. And all this construction ultimately turns out to be suspended on a branch or in the hollow of a tree or, as often happens, on the ceiling or attic of some structure. A hornet’s nest can be found attached to window frames, in gardens and forests, in abandoned burrows of small rodents.

An egg is laid in each of the cells, the development of which occurs over the next six days. Soon, larvae appear in the combs. First, the uterus, and at a later time, other family members, take care of their feeding. They are served by food, insects carefully minced by chewing.

As time passes, the next stage begins — the chrysalis. The larva turns into it, wrapping itself in a cobweb. This is called a cocoon. After 3 days an adult hatches from it, that is, a wasp in an adult stage.

Mating wasps

It should be noted that the eggs of these insects are not all the same. They can be fertilized or not. From the eggs of the first type comes a new uterus and working wasps. Here everything depends solely on the type of food in the larval stage. Drones give life to unfertilized eggs.

After working wasps emerge from their cocoons, the uterus’s mission of building a nest and feeding offspring ends, now she only cares for new eggs, which she lays three hundred each day.

By mid-summer, young larvae take on responsibilities wasp insects. They build cell honeycombs and feed the uterus itself. By the end of summer, working wasps cease to hatch; in the autumn, only females and drones are born.

In some cases, the uterus can lay its eggs in the fall. The new generation of wasps resulting from them goes in search of a pair for mating outside their native nest. After completing the mission, the males, as usual, die. However, such a fate does not affect females. They hibernate in the spring to form their new colony.

The process of the appearance of a wasp from a larva

Most of the aspen family live in the uterus. Its life span is about 10 months. Working wasps, like drones, live much less — about four weeks.

What to do if a wasp has bitten?

Members of the aspen family guard their nest very zealously. In view of this, those who approach him accidentally or on purpose may have major troubles. One poisonous waspAnd even the family, which has disturbed the nest, is definitely waiting for the most ruthless attack of many insects, which is an order of magnitude more dangerous for health.

The bite of such a creature is painful, and the place where the little dirty woman launched her sting turns red and swells. If this is an ordinary wasp, and not a representative of some particularly poisonous species, then the pain from a bite usually goes away after half an hour. But the swelling remains.

Not only humans, but the wasps themselves may not be flashed guests. As mentioned, in search of food, they are trying to get closer to people. And maybe it happens that a man and a wasp will be loving one treat.

Bringing food to the mouth, it is quite possible not to notice the unbearable creature sitting on it. And then wasp sting it will turn out to be the most painful, because it will launch its sting into the tongue or other delicate tissues in the mouth.

The airways can seriously suffer from this, and their edema can cause asthma attacks. This is especially serious for allergy sufferers, who should remember that when going outdoors, it is always better to have the right medications with you.

The victim of such insects needs to bite the bite site in a timely manner with ice or a wet towel. Plantain is very helpful in such cases. His leaves are first washed, then wrinkled and applied to the affected area. Such compresses should be changed from time to time, and then painful redness and swelling usually disappear quickly.

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Argiopa spider. Way of life and habitat of an argiopa

Features and habitat of an argiopa

Argiop Bryunnikh’s spider treats an araneomorfny look. This quite large insect, males more small than females. The body of an adult female individual can reach from 3 to 6 centimeters though there are also exceptions in the big party.

Males of an argiopa, on the contrary, have the small sizes — no more than 5 millimeters, besides, the narrow small body of the boy is usually painted in ordinary-looking monophonic gray or black color with the light belly and two dark strips on it located along sides. On light feet poorly expressed, indistinct rings of a dark shade. Pedipalpa crown male genitals, differently — bulbusa.

On a photo spider of an argiop male

The female differs not only the size, but also the general appearance. A female individual of an argiopa black-yellow in a strip, with the black head, on a rounded oblong body there are small light hairs. If to consider, beginning from a golovogruda, the 4th strip differs from the others in two small hillocks in the middle.

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Some scientists describe feet of females as long, thin, black with beige or light yellow rings, others consider on the contrary: feet of a spider light, and strips them banding — black.

Scope of extremities can reach 10 centimeters. In total at a spider of 6 couples extremities: 4 couples are considered as feet and 2 — jaws.

On a photo spider of an argiop female

Pedipalpa quite short, remind feelers more. Because of the combination of black and yellow flowers expressed by strips and on a body and standing the argiopa is called «spider wasp». The beautiful color of a spider also helps it not to become a lunch for birds, after all in fauna bright colors testify to availability of strong poison.

One more is happy a widespread version — an argiopa lobular, or otherwise — an argiopa of a lobat. The spider received the first name because of an unusual shape of a body — its flat stomach is at the edges topped with sharp teeth.

Argiopa of a lobat on a photo reminds a small bush pumpkin with long thin legs.

In the photo the spider Argioba Lobata (Lobed Agriopa)

Representatives of a look are widespread worldwide. They meet in Africa, Europe, Asia and Central Asia, in the majority of regions of the Russian Federation, Japan, China. As a preferable place of life meadows, edges, any other places which are well lit with the sun act.

Often the question «sounds the spider of an argiop is poisonous or not «, the answer on which — is unambiguous yes. As well as the majority of spiders of an argiop it is poisonous, however for the person it doesn’t constitute absolutely any danger — his poison is too weak.

The insect doesn’t express aggression in relation to people, only the female of an argiopa and only if to take it on hands can bite.

However, despite weakness of poison, a sting can cause painful feelings as stings enter deeply under an integument. The sting place reddens practically at once, slightly swells up, grows dumb.

Pain recedes only later a couple of hours, but the tumor from a sting of a spider of an argiopa can keep some days. Seriously people need to be afraid with an allergy to stings of this sort.

Argiopa perfectly feels in bondage for this reason (and because of an effective color) representatives of a look can be seen often in terrariums

Character and way of life of an agriopa

Representatives of a type of an argiop of the bryunnikh usually gather in not numerous colonies (no more than 20 individuals), lead a land life. The network is fixed between several small stalks or blades.

On a photo spider of an argiop of the bryunnikh

Argiopa — a spider spinning circles. Its networks differ in very beautiful, equal pattern and small cells. Having arranged the trap, the spider nestles in its lower part and patiently waits until production itself welcomes in his possession.

If the spider scents danger, he will immediately leave a trap and will go down on the earth. There the argiopa settles down a paunch up, having whenever possible hidden cephalothorax.

However, in certain cases the spider can try to drive away danger, having started shaking a web. Thick threads of a stabilimentum reflect light which merges in a bright spot, an origin, unclear for the enemy.

Argiopa has quiet character, having seen this spider in the wild nature, it is possible to consider it in rather short distance and to photograph, he isn’t afraid of the person. During morning and evening twilight, and also at night when on the street it is cool, the spider becomes sluggish and inactive.

Food of an agriopa

Most often grasshoppers, front sights, mosquitoes become the victims of the webs which are at small distance from the earth. However, what insect wouldn’t get into a trap, the spider with pleasure him will regale.

As soon as the victim concerns silk threads and reliably to them sticks, the argiopa comes nearer to it and uses poison. After its influence the insect ceases to resist, the spider quietly winds it with a dense cocoon of a web and at once eats.

The spider of an argiop of a lobat does installation of a trap in most cases in the evening. All process takes from it about an hour. As a result quite large round web in which center is stabilization (a zigzag pattern which consists of well noticeable threads) turns out.

It is a distinctive sign practically of all krugopryad, however the argiopa is allocated and here — its network decorate for a stabilimentum. They begin in the center of a trap and disperse to its edges.

Having finished work, the spider takes the place in the center, image peculiar to it having arranged an extremity — two left and two right forepaws, also as well as two left and two right hinder legs are pulled so together that from far away it is possible to take an insect for the letter X hanging on a web.

Preferable food of an argiopa of the bryunnikh are pryamokryly insects, however the spider doesn’t disdain also any other.

On a photo an argiopa web from a stabilimentumama

Pronounced zigzaobrazny stabilimentumama reflects an ultraviolet, thereby trapping the victims of a spider. The meal often occurs already on the earth where the spider goes down, having left a web to regale in a secluded place, without excess observers.

Reproduction and life expectancy of an agriopa

As soon as there passes the molt marking readiness of a female for pairing there is this action as helitser of a female some time still remain soft. The male foreknows when it happens, after all he can wait for long time of the necessary moment, hiding on the edge of a big web of a female somewhere.

After a coition the female immediately eats the partner. There were cases when the male managed to escape from a web cocoon which is spun by a female, flight, however, the following pairing already for certain will become fatal for the lucky.

It is caused by existence at males only of two extremities playing a role of bodies of copulation. After pairing one of these extremities disappears, however, if the spider manages to escape, there is one more.

Before a laying future mother weaves a dense large cocoon and has it near a lovchy network. Exactly there it in a consequence postpones all eggs, and their quantity can reach several hundred pieces. All the time being nearby, the female carefully protects a cocoon.

But, with approach of cold weather the female dies, the cocoon exists in an invariable look all winter and only in the spring of a pauchat come to light, being settled in different places.

As a rule, for this purpose they move by air by means of spider lines. All life cycle of an argiopa of a bronnikha lasts 1 year.

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