Myrmosa atra Panzer,1801

Description and notes

British specimens of the wingless females have black heads, whereas, in Ireland and the Isle of Man, the females have red heads (Stelfox, 1933;Yarrow, 1954a). All males are winged and have black heads. Identification keys are given by Richards (1980) and Yeo & Corbet (1995).


Found throughout England and Wales including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, but not yet found in Scotland. Recorded widely in southern Ireland, and in addition to the information shown on the map, it has also been reported from County Tipperary (Stelfox, 1933).

Overseas, found in many parts of Europe (The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, former Czechoslovakia, Austria, former Yugoslavia and Estonia) and in Asia (Iran and Siberia).

Status (in Britain only)

This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.


Associated particularly with sandy places; also on chalky banks, slopes in woods and roadsides.

Sometimes, one sees the males skimming over the soil surface and the females running about on the bare soil around the nesting sites of its hosts. Males can be found very commonly in Malaise traps (M Edwards, pers. comm.)

Flowers visited

Males are found on flowers of bramble and umbellifers such as wild carrot and wild parsnip.


No information available.

Adult activity period

Probably univoltine; adults are found mostly in July and August, sometimes June and September, and rarely in May and October.

Parasitic biology

Hosts are thought to be various ground-nesting crabronid wasps and halictine bees. Myrmosa atra could be a cleptoparasite feeding on the foodstores of its host, or a parasitoid feeding on the host itself. With such a wide variety of hosts a parasitoid way of life seems more likely.

Author of profile

M E Archer.

Year profile last updated