Wednesday 29 April 2015

Carrot Wasp

Image: Wildlife in a Dorset garden
Check out this supermodel wasp! A mere wisp of a wasp. Maybe if you eat your carrots you'll grow up to be a thin wasp with an enormous spear sticking out of your hind-quarters.

One can dream...

Image: zosterops
Found all over the world, Carrot Wasps belong to the Gasteruptiidae family and can reach anywhere between 0.5 and 2 cm (0.2 to 0.8 in) long. While only 500 species have been described so far, it's thought there may be over 1,000 more waiting to be named.

Like many supermodels, Carrot Wasps bear a sort of strange, alien beauty about them. Their eyes are HUGE and dominate a head that lies at the end of a long neck. Their hindmost legs are thick and much longer than the others. The abdomen is long, slim and vanishes almost entirely at the point where it joins with the thorax.

Image: fir0002
When you see them in flight with their long legs dangling down and their abdomen pointing behind them, they look oddly humanoid. They're like some alien insect-men zooming around with awkwardly designed jet packs.

Adults feed their muscles with energy-rich nectar from flowers. Which flowers? Flowers from the carrot family, of course! They're not salad-munchers after all! Least of all the youth...

Video: sigma1920HD

This brings us to what appears to be a ghastly, white-tipped stinger that can, in some species, be longer than the rest of the wasp's body. It's not really a stinger at all, but an ovipositor. An egg dropper.

You see, sugar is all very well for busy, flying adults, but in common with lots of other wasps, bees and ants, the larvae need protein to grow. Carrot Wasps can't be bothered with providing for their young. Luckily for them, many other bees and wasps can. Many solitary bees and wasps make small nests, fill it with all the pollen a growing grub needs and then leave an egg to hatch in its own delicious gingerbread house.

Image: ron_n_beths pics
That's when a Carrot Wasp comes along. She seeks out these nests hidden in the ground or in wood. Once she finds one, she uses her long ovipositor to bore into the nest and lay her egg. Now her own larva can hatch in someone else's delicious gingerbread house. It might even eat the occupant. Other people's children are a rich source of protein. Better than carrots, anyway.


Crunchy said...

I like to imagine she always stings a carrot. Darn smug carrots, acting all like they're so unstingable...

TexWisGirl said...

alienish, for sure.

Lear's Fool said...

Yeah. carrots are jerks!

*glares at carrot*

Porakiya said...

wasps are from mars, confirmed

Joseph JG said...

@Crunchy: Someone needs to teach those vegetables a lesson!

@TexWisGirl: Yup!

@Lear's Fool: Let's gang up on carrots!

@Porakiya Draekojin: We just needed that one, last bit of evidence to confirm it!