This page is intended as a summary of the wasps found in the Recording Area. It is in the main a photographic guide to what can be seen and identified on site. The species included in this summary are those that are common on site (unless otherwise stated) and can usually be identified in the field or by close up digital photographs. Therefore, it is largely confined to social wasps, digger wasps, potter wasps, gall wasps, spider-hunting wasps and the more readily identified ichneumon and cuckoo wasps.

Wasps represent by far the largest suborder of insects in Britain with over 6,600 species. The vast majority of these require microscopic examination to aid identification especially ichneumon and braconid wasps, even then identification to species level can be very difficult.

In total 182 species have recorded on the Warren, many of these have been recorded by visiting entomologists, most of whom collected specimens for identification. Unfortunately permission has not been granted to the Dawlish Warren Recording Group, therefore in recent years the vast majority of  identifications have been made by in-the-field sightings.

Summary and photos by Recording Group member Alan Keatley.

Related links: Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society  Steven Falk Flickr collection

Last update 30/08/2022.


Ichneumonidae (Darwin wasps). Small to very large. Parasitoids with very long antennae.

    Umbellifer Darwin Wasp (Amblyteles armatorius). Woodland clearings and bramble patches.


    Orange-legged Darwin Wasp (Pimpla rufipes). Straight ovipositor. Vegetated areas, mainly in late Summer and Autumn.


    Apechthis compunctor. Downward pointing ovipositor. Bushes and meadows.


    Callajoppa cirrogaster. Largest ichneumon. Parasitoid of hawkmoth caterpillars. One record July 2020.


Gasteruptiidae (Javelin wasps). Females have a very long ovipositor.

    Gasteruption jaculator. Meadows on umbellifers.


Chrysididae (Cuckoo wasps). Small to medium sized. Metallic looking and colourful. Parasitoid of digger and mason wasps.

    Golden Cuckoo Wasp (Pseudomalus auratus). Nest in bramble and other woody stems. Seen on fence posts and on vegetation.

    Violet Cuckoo Wasp (Pseudomalus violaceus). Nationally scarce. One record prior to 1969. Present status on site unknown. Woodland edges.

    Dull Cuckoo Wasp (Hedychridium roseum). Local on sand dunes and heaths.


    Glowing Cuckoo Wasp (Hedychridium ardens). Open sandy areas.


    Impressive Cuckoo Wasp (Chrysis impressa). Woodland edges.

    Linnaeus's Cuckoo Wasp (Chrysis ignita). Woodland edges, walls and fence posts.


Mutillidae (Velvet ants). Not an ant, but an ant-like wasp.

    Least Velvet Ant (Myrmosa atra). Males can be found on flowers, wingless females in sandy areas searching for digger wasp nests. No recent records.

Sapygidae (Club-horned wasps)

    Five-spotted Club-horned Wasp (Sapyga quinquepunctata). Parasitoid of red mason bees. First record June 2018.


Pompilidae (Spider-hunting wasps)

    Leaden Spider Wasp (Pompilus cinereus). Numerous in bare sand areas hunting ground spiders.


    Variable Spider Wasp (Dipogon variegatus). only hunts the common crab spider Xysticus cristatus. Double-banded fore-wings. First record August 2021.


    Red-legged Spider Wasp (Episyron rufipes). Can be found nectaring on umbellifers. Hunts orb web spiders.


    Anoplius infuscatus. Males can be found on umbellifers, females hunting wolf spiders on bare sandy ground.


Sphecidae (Sand wasps)

    Red-banded Sand Wasp (Ammophila sabulosa). Frequently found in bare sandy areas hunting caterpillars. The only insect on the SSSI citation.


Vespidae (Social, potter and mason wasps). Medium to large. Nest building wasps.

    Red Wasp (Vespula rufa). Scrubby grass areas, nests underground. Few records.


    Common Wasp (Vespula vugaris). Commonest social wasp with several nests.


    German Wasp (Vespula germanica). Less numerous than Common Wasp.

    Hornet (Vespa crabro). One or two records per annum, usually in autumn.


    Tree Wasp (Dolichovespula sylvestris). Nest in trees. Few records, no nests yet found.

    Norwegian Wasp (Dolichovespula norwegica). Nationally local species, nests in shrubs and trees. Few records. No nests found.

    Median Wasp (Dolichovespula media). Nationally scarce, first recorded in Britain in 1980, rapidly increasing and expanding range. First site record April 2019.


    Heath Potter Wasp (Eumerus coarctatus). Nationally scarce. One record August 2018, totally unexpected as usual habitat is heathland with areas of clay soil.


    Small-notched Mason Wasp (Ancistrocerus gazella). Mason wasp species differ in width and shape of first abdominal band. Frequent flower visitor.


    Maritime Mason Wasp (Ancistrocerus scoticus). Nationally local coastal species. No recent records.

    Three-banded Mason Wasp (Ancistrocerus triasciatus). Parasitised by Linnaeus's Cuckoo Wasp (Chrysis ignita).


    Willow Mason Wasp (Symmorphus bifasciatus). Frequently seen on umbellifers in woodland.


    Little Mason Wasp (Mircodynerus exilis). Nationally scarce. Hunts weevils.


Crabronidae (Digger wasps). Small to large solitary wasps. Nest location and prey type can help with identification. Many species are flower visitors, but not all. Peak appearance June to August.

    Minute Black Wasp (Diodontus minutus). Small, all black except for reddish legs. Nests in sandy areas provisioned with winged aphids.


    Melancholy Black Wasp (Diodontus tristis). Very similar to above, with black legs. Nests in sandy areas provisioned with wingless aphids. Last recorded in
    August 1981.

    Mournful Wasp (Pemphredon lugubris). All black wasp, appears from beginning of May, earlier than most other black digger wasps. Stigma and joining wing
    veins help identification. Nests in dead wood provisioned with aphids.


    Large-headed Crossocerus (Crossocerus megacephalus). Small to medium, large headed wasps. All black, nests in old beetle tunnels in dead wood
    provisioned with small flies.


    Tri-lobed Boxhead Wasp (Crossocerus podagrica). All black with yellow legs. Frequent flower visitor. Nests in dead wood, females capture small flies.


    Four-spotted Digger Wasp (Crossocerus quadrimaculatus). Prominent yellow markings on abdomen, some have reduced markings. Often basking on leaves.
    Long flight season from early May to mid-Oct. Ground nester in sandy soils including footpaths and rabbit burrow entrances. Prey is mainly small flies.


    Wesmael's Digger Wasp (Crossocerus wesmaeli). Black with yellow legs. Nest in sandy banks, mainly collects small flies. Not a flower visitor.


    Club-horned Woodborer Wasp (Tryoxylon clavicerum). Very elongated. Nests in stems, provisioned with spiders. No recent records.

    Red-bodied Stem Wasp (Rhopalum claviers). Elongated. Black with red abdomen. Nests in stems provisioned with barklice. First recorded August 2021.


    Shieldbug Digger Wasp (Astata boops). Black and red. Large head and eyes. Nest provisioned with shieldbug nymphs. Parasitised by Dull Cuckoo Wasp
    Hedychridium roseum.


    Dryudella pinguis. Black and red with white head spots. Nests on bare sand, provisioned with bug nymphs.


    White-spotted Digger Wasp (Harpactus tumidis). Nests in sandy soils, collects frog hoppers from vegetation to provision nest. No recent records.

    Common Spiny Digger Wasp (Oxybelus uniglumis). Black with white spots. Nests in sandy soils, eg golf course bunkers. Provisions nest with flies.


    Field Digger Wasp (Mellinus arvensis). Flies late Summer / Autumn. Nests in sandy soils. Preys on flies including hoverflies.


    Sand-tailed Digger Wasp (Cerceris arenaria).  Active late June to late August. Ground nester, nest stocked with weevils.


    Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp (Cerceris rybyensis). Commonest Cerceris, preys on small bees. A ground nester in various compacted soil. Visits a range of   


    Slender-bodied Digger Wasp (Crabro cribrarius). Large, robust wasp. Frequent flower visitor. Males have brown fore tibia shield. Ground nester, preys on flies.


    Armed Digger Wasp (Crabro peltarius). Very similar to Slender-bodied Digger Wasp, but males have blue not brown fore tibia shield. Also, a frequent flower
    visitor and preys on flies.


    Two-girdled Digger Wasp (Agrogorytes mystaceus). Mainly a Spring species with a preference for open woodland habitat. Nests on dry banks, prey is
    froghoppers. No recent records.

    Garden Ectemnius (Ectemnius cavifrons). A large Ectemnius species. Identified by ridges on antennae. Nests in holes in decaying wood, preys on hoverflies.


    Large Ectemnius (Ectemnius cephalotes). A large species found in various habitats with dead wood to nest. Frequent flower visitor especially umbellifers.
    Preys on flies including hoverflies.


    Common Ectemnius (Ectemnius continuus). Commonest Ectemnius in various habitats with dead wood and umbellifers. Preys on flies, mainly hoverflies and


    Three-spotted Digger Wasp (Nysson trimaculatus). Nationally scarce. A parasitoid of Four-banded Digger Wasp (Gorytes quadrifasciatus) and Dark-winged
    Digger Wasp (Lestiphorus bicinctus). Relying entirely on its hosts. Records are mainly historical with a more recent record in August 2021.

    Four-banded Digger Wasp (Gorytes quadrifasciatus). A widespread species, much commoner than its parasitoid. Frequently found nectaring on umbellifers.
    Nests in sandy soil and preys on planthoppers.


    Dark-winged Digger Wasp (Lestiphorus bicinctus). Nationally scarce. Found in scrubby areas with bramble. Nesting biology poorly known, preys on various
    bugs. Host of Three-spotted Digger Wasp (Nysson trimaculatus).

    Bee-wolf (Philanthus triangulum).  Previously considered a rarity, this impressive digger wasp has increased in numbers and extended its range over the last 20
    years. Flies from July to September nectaring on various flowers. Preys almost exclusively on honey bees. Nests in flat and vertical sandy surfaces.


Cynipidae (Gall wasps). Small wasps that induce galls on plants for larvae development, some species only use ready formed galls to lay eggs (inquilines). Galls are also used by parasitic wasps of the family Chalcididae and Torymidae. Adult wasps are very difficult to identify and therefore, galls are used in most instances to indicate their presence.

    Oak Ram's-horn Gall Wasp (Andricus aries). Galls develop on Pendunculate Oak buds. First discovered in Britain in 1997, has spread throughout England.


    Artichoke Gall Wasp (Andricus foecundatrix). Gall develops from an oak bud.


    Marble Gall Wasp (Andricus kollari). Galls develop singularly or in clusters on Turkey Oak buds, turning from green to brown.


    Knopper Gall Wasp (Andricus queruscalicis). Develops on acorns. Can be abundant in some years. It arrived in Britain in the 1960s.

    Acorn Cup Gall (Andricus grossulariae). Asexual generation develops on acorns. First recorded in the UK in 2000 and spreading rapidly.

    Oak Apple Gall Wasp (Biorhiza pallida). Develops from oak buds in late Spring.

    Striped Pea Gall Wasp (Cynips longiventris). Develops on oak leaves in mid-Summer.


    Bramble Stem Gall Wasp (Diastrophus rubi). The gall wasp attacks fresh green bramble stems in Spring.


    Dog Rose Gall Wasp (Diplolepis nervosa). The gall wasp introduces two kinds of galls, a pea and a 'sputnik', on wild roses, usually on underside of leaves, but
    sometimes on upper surface. The 'sputnik' galls are formed by this species. the pea galls below are formed either by this species or Diplolepis eglanteriae.


    Bedeguar Gall Wasp (Diplolepis rosae). Also known as Robin's Pincushion gall. The gall wasp lays its eggs in the rosebud in Spring, growing from stem can
    reach 7 cm across. Galls can contain many egg chambers, tenants and parasitoids.


    Oyster Gall Wasp (Neuroterus anthracinus). Egg shaped galls develop on lower sides of the veins of oak leaves.

    Silk Button Gall Wasp (Neuroterus numismalis). Develops on underside of oak leaves, often abundant in late Summer, hundreds may occur on a
    single leaf.


    Oak Spangle Gall Wasp (Neuroterus quercusbaccarum). A single oak leaf can contain scores of galls on the underside of the leaf.


    Oak Pasty Gall Wasp (Neuroterus saliens). Develops on the mid ribs or the petioles of Turkey Oak leaves.


    Cat's-ear Stem Gall Wasp (Phanacis hypochoeridis). Ribbed swellings in the stems and flower stalks of cat's-ear. Develops from mid-Summer onwards. This
    gall is very local and rarely common.


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