Beginners bees, wasps & ants: Philanthus triangulum - beewolf

Philanthus triangulum - beewolf

The beewolf is one of the largest and most spectacular solitary wasp species in Britain. It nests in sandy places on dunes, heaths and sand-pits, often in large "wasp cities" and preys on honeybees. The wasp was once considered an extreme rarity but has undergone a huge increase in both range and abundance since the late 1980's

Key features

  • Bold yellow and black markings
  • Trident-like facial markings on the male
  • Brownish markings on the head behind the eyes of the larger females
  • Nests often with dead honeybees lying around the entrances
  • Nest entrances often "D-shaped" with a fan of excavated sandy spoil in front
  • Females carry honeybees back to the nest under their bodies

Similar species

The beewolf is quite similar to a number of ground nesting wasps (eg Cerceris arenaria and C. rybyensis), but its habit of hunting honeybees makes it unique among British species


For more about Philanthus triangulum

Download an information sheet


Photos: Philanthus triangulum (pale form) and inset by Jeremy Early

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