Tachysphex pompiliformis (Panzer,1805)


A female Tachyspex pompiliformis excavates a burrow then catches and paralyses a meadow grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus and somehow manages to drag this huge prey item to its nest. After pulling it down the burrow she lays an egg on it and then seals up the entrance. Her larva will then devour the unfortunate grasshopper. Video by John Walters


Found throughout England and Wales, with a few isolated records from Scotland. In Ireland it is apparently restricted to the east and south coasts. The species is present on the Isles of Scilly, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, being recorded from Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Sark and Alderney. A common species over much of Europe. Also occurring in North Africa, and through southern Siberia and Kashmir to Mongolia and Kamchatka (Lomholdt, 1975-76).

Status (in Britain only)

The species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.


Sandy localities, both coastal and inland.

Flight period

May to September. Wasps can be found as freshly emerged adults through out this period, and the species may well be multivoltine (M Edwards, pers. comm.).

Prey collected

Nymphs of grasshoppers (Acrididae), including Chorthippus species and Stenobothrus lineatus.

Nesting biology

Nests are constructed in sloping sandy soil. The larval cell is built at the end of a short (about 5 cm) burrow, the female making short orientation runs and flights during excavation. In the early part of the season, the cell is provisioned with up to ten small acridid nymphs, the single egg being laid between the first and second pair of coxae of the last nymph. Later, the wasp is capable of paralysing large nymphs which are dragged to the nest; one of these can be sufficient for one cell (M Edwards, pers. comm.). At times more than one cell is constructed per burrow, three having been observed (Adlerz, 1903, cited by Lomholdt, 1975-76). The larva hatches after a few days and is fully grown in about a week.

Flowers visited

Wild carrot, wild parsnip and bramble.


The chrysidid wasps Hedychridium ardens and Hedychridium roseum have been recorded as either cleptoparasites or parasitoids (Morgan, 1984).

Author of profile

G W Allen.

Year profile last updated