What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Large Orange-Black Carrion Fly in Singapore
Location: Singapore (southwest)
August 4, 2011 5:36 am
Hello bugman !
I saw several of these large, black & bright orange, wasp-like flies feeding on a dead frog in a dried-out ditch. The orange coloration covers half of the insect’s abdomen. I’m thinking that it resembles some kind of Mydas sp. — except that there is so much orange, & the abdomen is broader (more bee-like).
* Date: 21 July 2011 (around 5:50pm)
* Ambient Temperature: 29-30 deg C
* Season: Year-round Summer
* Weather: Hot & sunny during the past few days
…  A few days later, I spotted several individuals of the same type of fly again amongst some grasses at a reservoir, although I didn’t see any carrion nearby. May I know the ID of the said fly ? Thanks !
Signature: pyjstein

Lesser Banded Hornet

Dear pyjstein,
This is not a fly.  The reason it resembles a wasp is that it is the Greater Banded Hornet,
Vespa tropica, which according to the Clubsnap Forum on Wasps webpage we found, is:  “one of the biggest and more common hornets in Singapore. This species is a predator on nests of other social wasps and bees. In fact, I believe that if you leave that nest alone, it is only a matter of time before these hornets attack and wipe the colony out, driving the adults away and capturing all larvae and pupae to feed their own offspring. A colony of these hornets in tropical areas like Singapore may well have to attack 500 or more colonies of paper wasps or honeybees throughout its lifespan!”  The site also contains these tips on photographing Wasps and Hornets:  “Three actions are most threatening to wasps and a sure way of getting stung: Approaching the nest too closely (every species has a different tolerance radius, and the wasps you photographed will tolerate approach with a mere inch of the nest), fast and sudden movement and breathing or blowing on the nest. As long as these are avoided, you’ll be fine around wasps.”  The abdomen on your specimen contains two orange segments, while all of the individuals on this Vespa tropica webpage have only one orange band.  We suspect this is merely color variation within a species and that it is not indicative of being a different species.

Lesser Banded Hornet

Ed. Note:  Oops, our mistake.
We continued to read the
Vespa tropica webpage, and we discovered this:  “In most parts of its range, Vespa tropica can easily be distinguished from Vespa affinis by its larger size and the distribution of the yellow band on the abdomen; the yellow band covers the first and second segments in Vespa affinis, but only the second in Vespa tropica.”  We then visited the Vespa affiniswebpage and learned this smaller hornet is called the Lesser Banded Hornet.

Lesser Banded Hornets

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Singapore

3 Responses to Lesser Banded Hornet from Singapore

  1. pyjstein says:

    Thanks so much for the speedy species ID ! I’d mistakenly thought those were carrion bugs feeding on the dead toad, until you guys enlightened me that those are in fact hornets. And my video footage does bear this out — the hornets were preying on the carrion flies (not the toad).

    I have checked out the taxonomy, & the type commonly found in Singapore & Peninsular Malaysia is the subspecies Vespa affinis indosinensis — which is distinguished by its brilliant-orange 1st & 2nd abdominal segments on an otherwise fully-black body.

    Vespa affinis — the species form that is common to NE Asia — appears to have a mostly black body, but a reddish-brown head & thorax, as well as yellow abdominal segments.

  2. Vincent says:

    Dear Administrators of WhatsThatBug.

    I know that this post is several years old, though I wanted to try and confirm something. I am currently living in Cyprus, where I came a across a Bug that was extremely similar to the one shown above, the Vespa Affinis. Is it possible that some migrated, accidentally or naturally, to the Mediterranean? If not, is it possible that there are other types of Hornets, very similar, with the top part of their tail (Not really sure on the whole scientific Jargon here) being Orange to yellow-ish, and the rest being still entirely Black?

    Thank you very much for your response.

    • bugman says:

      This is not a rare color pattern among hornets, and there may be a species native to Cyprus with similar markings and coloration.

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