Podagrion, a passe-muraille wasp

The story of wasp breaking in a fortress.


Picture yourself in shrubland, stretching your legs. All six of them.

[Southern European shrubland soundscape fades in]

A couple of days ago, you emerged from the big mound you stand on, with a brand new body. Now it is time to lay your own eggs inside. You are on a praying mantis egg case, or ootheca, and you are a Podagrion wasp, a mantis parasite.

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If the mantis eggs are a very good resource, they are equally well protected. Hidden inside this small hill of hardened foam, they are well ordered and encased. This whole structure is dedicated to their protection from predators and parasites. Well, generalist parasites, at least. But you, are a specialist, and you have the tools and method to break in.

You look for the ideal spot. Walking on the ridged surface, scanning it with your antennae. There it is! A good point of access. You align your body with the axis of the ootheca, and stretch yourself to stand on the edge of your legs. Then, you start boring in the surface with your ovipositor, a long tube at the bottom of your abdomen. Like a syringe, it penetrates the hard layer to reach the chamber where the coveted treasure lays: the mantis egg.

This will make a wonderful meal for your larva to develop on…


Breland, O. P. Podagrion Mantis Ashmead and Other Parasites of Praying Mantid Egg Cases (Hym.: Chalcidoidea; Dipt.: Chloropidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 1941, 34 (1), 99–113. https://doi.org/10.1093/aesa/34.1.99.