Friday, 17 January 2014

Wasp 1 Spider 0

The title of this post should warn you that if:
  • you don't like spiders; or
  • are upset by images of dead/paralysed animals
now would be a good time to move to another site!  Of course if it's:
  • only live/active spiders you don't like, and/or
  • only furry dead things that upset you
read on: you'll probably enjoy the visit!  (I have received an email suggesting that there is a logical flaw and a new warning is needed: if you like spiders stop reading.)

This morning I was down at TRGFKAWC (the rocky gully formerly known as Whiskers Creek) extracting a few cans of the remaining water to try to keep some grass alive by the new bridge when I noticed an attractive wasp trotting around.
My immediate thought was that this was the mud-daubing wasp seen at home the previous evening.  However I soon realised that it was a very different shape.  It moved around on the ground quite a bit, at a fairly good speed.  After a little while I realised that it had acquired a large spider which it was towing around.
The spider did not seem well. (Once the wasp was identified the spider was evidently paralysed, and about to become tucker for wasplings.)  The pair eventually disappeared down a crack in the bank.  The question was: what is the insect?

I scanned a few books and websites and got nowhere.  So then I googled "spider-eating wasp" and the second suggestion was a CSIRO site which suggested family Pompilidae.  So my next step was to search for Australian National Insect Collection Pompilidae.  The second image on the resulting site was very similar to my photo above.  Thus I am happy to identify my wasp as Female Cryptocheilus bicolor (Orange Spider Hunter Wasp).

I have subsequently searched the Atlas of Living Australia and they don't have any records for this area (so I shall load one).  They have one image similar to my first one, so I shall donate my second image to them!  (Having now got the correct family as a starting point, I find that Brisbane Insects have a very nice post about the species.)

As an aside, it is apparently tough being an arachnid around here.  Skinks also eat you!


Ian Fraser said...

What a great shot of a difficult subject! Coincidentally I managed my first one of this event at Christmas too, though it's not as nice as yours.

Flabmeister said...

Many thanks Ian. I was VERY lucky to get it, as before taking the photo I had to juggle a full watering can and bucket and then get the camera out .... Surprisingly, I didn't complete the Mr Bean impression by falling in the remaining puddle of water!