Curious Garden Creatures

One of the eleven known Australian species of parasitic Leucospis wasps

There are eleven known Australian species of parasitic Leucospis wasps, and this one makes twelve

Give me an Australian wasp anytime. The solitary species are so much safer to garden amongst than their vicious ‘social’ European counterpart, Vespula germanica.

Since moving to Queensland in 2003, I’ve kept a checklist of animals that visit or have moved into my evolving organic garden.

This new wasp is the 28th species I’ve observed here, and is the 379th recorded species in my 800 square metre suburban garden.

In terms of global biodiversity, Australia has a big slice of different kinds. Some are predatory, others parasitic. Many are tiny. Few are willing to sting, remaining polite even when they’re disturbed having dinner.

I have a small, recently arrived wasp species. And according to Graham, a consultant insect taxonomist for the NT Museum, it’s endemic and unusual. Adults drink nectar from my golden rod plants (Solidago sp.), but their larvae are carnivorous.

The gold-tipped leafcutter bee, Megachile chrysopyga, is one of their host species. It’s currently common in my garden where it is pollinating the basil that borders my lawn. Perhaps they have drawn this little studied wasp species here.

Graham says:

“The wasp is a species of the genus Leucospis, in the family Leucospidae. There are 11 Australian species of Leucospis. They are ectoparasitic on other aculeate wasps as well as megachilid bees. They are not common, and I’ve only seen 2 or 3 in my travels. They may have a preference for parasitising wasps in mud nests (most of which parasitise either wasps or spiders). Any observations of the Leucospis behaviour could be interesting”.

With such fabulous beasts around, I’ll keep my camera handy.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

7th February 2013