Cleptes semiauratus (Linnaeus,1761)

Description and notes

Identification keys and general biology of this species, (also known as C. pallipes Lepeletier, 1805), are given in Morgan (1984) and Falk (1991).


Devon to Kent, north to North Wales (Anglesey), South Lancashire and West Yorkshire. A widespread species which has probably declined recently.

Overseas, the wasp occurs in Europe (including Sweden, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Hungary), much of Palaearctic Asia but not Japan, North Africa (Algeria) and has been introduced into the USA.

Status (in Britain only)

This species is listed as Rare in Shirt and is regarded as Nationally Scarce (Nb) by Falk (1991).


Associated with gardens, cemeteries and post-industrial sites, and also open sandy habitats, e.g. heathland and sand dunes, and fenland.

Flight period

From June to August but mainly during July, rarely during May. Males tend to be more frequently found than females.

Flowers visited

No British information found, but the wasp been collected by sweeping from birch and beating from white poplar. Also observed running about the leaves of red currant bushes and on the ground beneath them.


No specific information found.

Parasitic biology

A parasitoid on the cocoons of tenthredinid sawflies, particularly the common currant sawfly (Nematus ribesii) which is found on red currant, gooseberry and similar shrubs. The sawfly can have several generations a year with the summer cocoon often spun between leaves and the over-wintering cocoons spun in the soil. The female wasp searches for a cocoon and bites a hole in it. An egg is then laid on the host and the hole sealed with glistening mucilage. On hatching the cleptine larva eats the host.

Author of profile

M E Archer.

Year profile last updated