Cerceris ruficornis (Fabricius,1793)

Distribution

In Britain, the range extends from east Kent to west Cornwall, and in the east, northwards to Lincolnshire (where it is rare). It is also present on the larger Channel Islands.

Status (in Britain only)

Not listed in Shirt (1987) or Falk (1991). The restricted distribution and its precise habitat requirements suggest that it may be under threat.

Habitat

This wasp is sometimes locally common on sandy heathland in southern England (there are numerous records from coastal heaths in Cornwall). Other biotopes, such as coastal cliffs, are occasionally utilised.

Flight period

The species is active from mid-June to late September.

Prey collected

As in C. arenaria, C. ruficornis also preys mainly on adult curculionids, with occasional beetles of other families such as Chrysomelidae (Hamm & Richards, 1930; Lomholdt, 1976). The unusual shape of the female clypeus (a projecting, down-curved flange) is likely to be associated with the method of carrying the prey.

Nesting biology

On heaths, specimens are generally encountered singly as they fly low over the vegetation. Very little appears to be known of the biology of this species, as nests are rarely found. Although it is likely to be broadly similar to C. arenaria, it seems not to nest gregariously in the manner of that species or C. rybyensis.

Author of profile

G R Else & J P Field

Year profile last updated

1997

Proofed: March 2012