Metallic Brown Spider Wasp


Family Pompilidae - Spider Wasps

Order Hymenoptera

This page contains pictures and information about Spider Wasps in Pompilidae that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. 

Wasp body length 30mm, just captured a Huntsmen Spider. Image thanks to John Kilford, Sydney 

Most members in this family are large wasps. All of them are solitary insect. The female mates and then prepares nests (usually on ground in soil) and food for her young. The males have shorter life span and die shortly after mating. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the supplied food, usually spiders. After pupation the new adults emerge, seek a mate and  restart their life cycle.

Most of the Spider Warps are orange and black, black and grey/white markings or just black, i.e., the very strong warning colours. They usually have tinted wings, smooth and shiny body. Their hind-legs are long and always have two prominent spurs. They tend to coil their antennae. They usually hunting on ground with the characteristic wing flicking movement.  

Females have very powerful sting. They hunt for spiders, which they grasp and sting. The spider is then paralyzed and dragged back to nest and lay egg on it. The egg hatches and will feed on the spider. 

Females provision cell of nest with a single paralysed spider. Spider Wasps attacked spiders with about the same size or even slightly bigger, although they are rarely prey-specific. Some Spider Wasp species mostly hunt for spiders on ground and a few specially hunt for web building spiders

In sunny summer days, we sometimes see Spider Warps walking, hopping and flying short distance between plants near the ground, with wings flicking rapidly. They are hunting for spiders as the food for their young. We found many difference species of Spider Wasps and listed as below. There are three different Spider Wasps subfamilies in Australia, the Pepsinae, Pompilinae, Ceropalinae and Epipompilinae. The Ceropalinae and Epipompilinae species are rare and we did not find any yet. 

Pepsinae, Pepsini

Wasps in this tribe is large in size. Some of them are brightly orange and black in colours. Cryptocheilus sp. is the common predator of Huntsman Spiders and Wolf Spiders
Orange Spider Wasp 1
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Priocnemis bicolor, Pepsini, body length 30mm
This wasp is large. Its head, legs and antenna are in orange colour, thorax and eyes are in black colour. Its wings are in orange colour with black tips. More information and pictures can be found in this page.
Orange Spider Wasp 2
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Cryptocheilus bicolor, Pepsini, body length 30mm
This wasp is large. Its head, legs and antenna are black and orange-yellow in colour, thorax and eyes are in dark brown to black colour. Its wings are tinted in orange brown colour. There are the broad orange bands on its black abdomen. We have some observations and recorded in this page.
Orange Spider Wasp 3
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Cryptocheilus sp., Pepsini, body length 40mm
On Oct 2011 in JC Trotter Memorial Park, we saw a pair of very large Orange Spider Wasps flying passing by. We quickly took the about photo. This Spider Wasp look a bit different with the two species above with its forewing tip slightly darken. Please check this page for more informtion.

Pepsinae, Ageniellini

Wasps in this tribe is medium in side with slender body. 
Yellow Antenna Black Spider Wasp 1
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Fabriogenia sp., body length 20mm
We sometimes see this black wasp searching prey on gum tree bark. The wasp has the long bright yellow antenna. More information and pictures please visit this page
Yellow Antenna Black Spider Wasp 2
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? Fabriogenia sp., body length 20mm
This black wasp looked similar to the one above but has the dark wings instead of banded wings. We believed they are different species. Please check this page for more information.
Metallic Brown Spider Wasp
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? Auplopus sp., body length 15mm
This wasp is relatively small in size. It has the reddish-brown thorax and legs. Its head is Golden-brown in colour. On Dec 2006 in Karawatha Forest, we saw a small wasp dragging a spider. More pictures and information can be found in this page.
Mud Nest Tenant Wasp
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? Auplopus sp., body length 20mm
This wasp look similar to the common Common Mud-Dauber Wasp except with yellow pattern on top of its thorax. However, it is wandering on the mud nest but not building the nest. If the wasp was not building the nest then it could be a parasite wasp. This is a very interesting story. Please keep reading at this page


Zebra Spider Wasp
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Turneromyia sp., body length 20mm
We saw this wasp once in Karawatha Forest during early summer. It was searching on the forest floor. We have more pictures and information in this page
Orange-collared Spider Wasp
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Ferreola handschini, body length 20mm
This wasp is medium size, black in colour with black tinted wings and orange-yellow prothorax. It was hunting on trees and grasses with wing and antenna flicking movement, the special characteristic of spider wasp. Also notice the two prominent spurs on the legs. We saw this wasp once in Daisy Hills near Buhot creek on Dec 2009. Please check this page for more information. 

1. Insects of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, pp 974.
2. A field guide to insects in Australia - By Paul Zborowski and Ross Storey, Reed New Holland, 1996, p189.
3. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p292.
4. Spider wasps Fact File - Wildlife of Sydney, AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM, 2007.
5. What wasp is that? - An interactive identification guide to the Australasian families of Hymenoptera, 2007.
6. Northern Territory Insects, A Comprehensive Guide CD - Graham Brown, 2009.
7. Pompilidae {family} - Arthropoda; Insecta; Hymenoptera;- BOLDSYSTEM.

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Last updated: July 14, 2012.