Tachysphex nitidus (Spinola,1805)

Description and notes

This species has only recently been recognised in Britain, previously being confused under the name T. unicolor. Most records of the latter belong to the present species.

Distribution

North Devon to Kent (including the Dorset coast, but apparently not the Isle of Wight); the south Wales coast, and north to North Lincolnshire, Westmorland and the Isle of Man. In the Channel Islands, the species appears to be confined to Guernsey. Overseas it is found in northern and central Europe southwards to southern Spain, the Canary Islands and North Africa. The range extends eastwards to Syria and Israel.

Status (in Britain only)

Not listed in Shirt (1987) or Falk ( 1991). Improved knowledge of its distribution suggests its status should be revised.

Habitat

Sparsely vegetated sandy areas of coasts and heathland; compare with T. pompiliformis, which occupies more vegetated areas.

Flight period

Univoltine; May to August.

Prey collected

Nymphs of grasshoppers (Acrididae).

Nesting biology

Nesting takes place in sandy soils. Burrows are up to 30 cm long and constructed at a very acute angle to the ground, so that the single chamber is only about 3 cm be low ground level. The prey is flown or dragged to the nest, depending on its size (Lomholdt, 1975-76).

Flowers visited

No information available.

Parasites

Miltogrammine flies of the genus Taxigramma parasitise this wasp in Europe (Lomholdt, 1975-76). It is not known whether any flies have the same habit in Britain.

Author of profile

G W Allen

Year profile last updated

1998