Ceropales variegata (Fabricius, 1798)


A rare heathland species with records confined to Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey. After not being found since 1953 at Parley in Dorset, the species was found on several heathlands in Surrey and in the western New Forest during the early 2000s.

Status (in Britain only)

Listed as Endangered (RDB1) in Shirt (1987) and Falk (1991).


Day, 1988 is the standard work for identifying British Pompilidae. Wiśniowski, B., 2009 is also useful.

Flight period

Adults of C. variegata have been found in July and August. British observers report a male and female flying around a small pine heavily infested with aphids (Hamm, 1909); six males and a female sheltering beneath a pine tree with various other aculeates on a very hot day (Nevinson, 1911); and a probable male flying over a patch of heather (Mortimer, 1897).

Nesting biology

Nothing has been recorded of its life history. Other Ceropales species are well known for the cleptoparasitic habit of intercepting female pompilids of other genera whilst dragging paralysed spiders to their nests. The ceropales drives off the other pompilid so that she can insert an egg into the lung book of the prey. The Ceropales then takes no further interest in the prey, though the original captor of the spider must return and finish provisioning her own nest cell. The Ceropales larva hatches first and destroys the egg of the host pompilid prior to feeding on the spider.

Flowers visited

Wild carrot and wild angelica have been recorded.

Author of profile

S J Falk.

Year profile last updated