Female Flower Wasp from Australia

Subject: Flower wasp female
Location: Fremantle, WA
August 15, 2016 6:53 pm
G’day bugman
Thought I’d share this picture of what a friend has helped me identify as a female flower wasp (confirmed from your website). I saw her on the wall of my house in Fremantle, WA.
I haven’t found another image on the net of one with quite the same bright golden colour.
Signature: Hugh

Female Flower Wasp
Female Flower Wasp

Dear Hugh,
Wow, what an awesome image.  We located a four year old posting on our site of a similar looking, but not exact match visually, female Flower Wasp in our archive, and we are going to do some fresh research to try to determine the identity of your particular species.  We located a pretty good visual match on Ant Blog, and the following information is provided:  “This particular specimen is a female Thynnine wasp. All female species of the subfamily Thynninae are wingless and can often be seen scaling an elevated structure like a flower or a tree (or in your case, a fence) in order to catch the attention of a passing male. Unlike females, Tiphiid males do have wings and will literally sweep the receptive female off her feet for an extended in-flight mating ritual that also involves treating the female to several easy meals along the way (flower nectar being much more accessible from the air).  Winglessness in female tiphiid wasps finally proves useful when, after mating, the gravid female must burrow underground to find a suitable repository for her eggs, namely scarab beetle larvae. Interestingly, winglessness or brachyptery (reduced wings) in wasps often goes hand in hand with this kind of parasitism and occurs in at least eight other wasp families. This frequently leads to confusion with ants.”  An even closer visual match is on Esperance Wildlife where it is identified as being in the genus
Hemithynnus and this information is provided:  “Wasps in the Tiphiidae family are generally known as Flower Wasps as the adults feed on the nectar of various flowers. It is a large family that is represented in Australia by 3 sub-families, two of which both the male and female wasps have wings, but in the third Thynninae, the female is wingless and is carried about or otherwise feed by the much larger winged male.  The male thynnine wasps are attracted to the females when she releases a pheromone to indicate she is ready to mate. It is interesting to note that many plants, particularly orchids mimic this pheromone to attract the male wasp, who inadvertently pollinates them when they grasp the labellum, which they think is the female. However most of these wasps would be much smaller than this species (probably a Hemithynnus sp.) that is over 3 cm (11/4”) in length (excluding antennae), so a little large for most orchid flowers. The wingless female above (which may not be the same species) is about a third the size of the male.  These wasps are parasitic on the larvae of burrowing scarab beetles, whereby after mating the wingless female digs into the soil to locate them and will then lay at least one egg on each. They must encounter a number, as they are reasonably common in the Esperance (near coastal) sandy heath from November to January. “

Awesome, thas for the info. Very interesting. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not a scarab beetle larva!
Love your site by the way.

1 thought on “Female Flower Wasp from Australia”

  1. I have a picture of a flightless female flower wasp taken recently in the suburb of duncraig, originally had my best guess, but not overly confident that it was a future queen ant, a colleague identified it correctly using your site for confirmation,cheers


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