The wasp beetle is quite aptly-named as, to a casual glance, it does resemble a wasp. However, a closer look will reveal typical beetle characteristics in body type and behaviour. It belongs to the sub-family of long-horn beetles. Colour-wise, the wasp beetle shares the same warning pattern as its un-related namesake. The basic background is black, with a symmetrical pattern of yellow bands and slashes running laterally across the body or obliquely from the centre of the back. The legs are orange-brown, the two hind pairs rather longer than the front. The antennae are brown with black tips.
The larvae of the wasp beetle feed on the wood of deciduous trees, which have been invaded by a particular species of fungus. The adults emerge in May and feed on the pollen of different species of flowers, the females occasionally taking insects to provide extra protein for egg-production. The adult beetles have a short life and most have died by the end of the summer.
Wasp beetles practice what is known as ‘protective-colouration’, mimicking a more aggressive species of animal. As well as the wasp-like markings on their bodies, they also copy the wasps’ style of moving about across a flower-head, adopting the side-ways walk characteristic of wasps. Unlike wasps, however, they lack the sting in the tail.
There are currently no conservation projects specifically aimed at preserving the wasp beetle. Although the species has a preference for woodland with plenty of open areas where flowers can grow, it is polyphagous, meaning it can feed from a number of different plant species. The wood-boring larvae only require trees that are host to certain fungi but can be found living within a variety of tree species.
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