Ammophila wasp

The story of a solitary wasp looking for a prey.


Picture yourself walking in greenery, under the warm sun.

As you step through blades of grass, you carefully screen the ground for feces. You are a red-banded sand wasp, Ammophila sabulosa, and you need to get your mandibles on some juicy caterpillars to feed your larvae. Checking for feces down here is still the best way to know if there are preys up there!

Ah, here is one, a small round piece of poop. And a few more, but all of disappointing size. You start walking up, and quickly find the origin of this excrement, a young green caterpillar. You stand on it, hold it firmly in your mandibles, and start stinging. This will ensure the beast is fully paralyzed! Handling it firmly, you start moving the paralyzed larva towards a place where you can bury it. As it is below you, in the middle of your legs, you can also get a good idea of its size. It is not big enough to feed one of your larvae throughout all its growth, so you will have to look for at least a second one to provision the nest chamber. Otherwise, the egg you deposit on the caterpillar will not have enough food to grow in a beautiful adult wasp like you!


Casiraghi, M. et al. (2001) ‘Nest provisioning and stinging pattern in ammophila sabulosa (hymenoptera, sphecidae): Influence of prey size’, Italian Journal of Zoology, 68(4), pp. 299–303. Available at: