Wasp Beetles – A Quick Guide

The wasp beetle, Clytus arietis, is found in Northern Europe. They are a type of longhorn beetle.

How did the wasp beetle get its name?

The Wasp Beetles get their name from their mimicry of a wasp. They are not the only long-horned beetle in their family to adopt the wasp’s colors (see the spotted longhorn beetle). But this particular insect’s body shape and colors look remarkably like the stinging creature. In May and July, they are often mistaken for wasps by people. The beetles adapt these colors and body to fend off predators, adopting the same level of a deterrent as a wasp.

Are wasp beetles convincing at pretending to be wasps?

The Wasp Beetle doesn’t only look like a wasp, but it mimics its movements as well. It’s very uncanny how much this insect takes on the wasp persona. The insect moves around like a wasp mimicking its side-step and flight – it also emanates a wasp-like buzz when it feels threatened.

Wasp Beetle
Wasp Beetle – Maciej Olszewski@123rf.com

How long do wasp beetles live?

The life cycle of the Wasp Beetle is only about three months. That starts when they hatch from larvae. They will begin their lives around May and get to work straight away, searching for a mate to reproduce – avoiding all predators along the way. Their lifespan ends towards the last days of July or early August. They certainly get a lot done during the days of summer, though as females can lay up to 100 eggs.

What is the wasp beetle’s habitat?

Wasp Beetles have interesting choices of home. They take up residence in dead or decaying wood, such as those found in fence posts or gates. The reason being that the beetles’ larvae feed on the deciduous wood. Since most of their lives are spent reproducing, the wood areas make ideal homes. You won’t see too many in urban environments for this very reason – dead wood is usually found in hedgerows, woodlands, parks, and gardens. Northern Europe has many of these habitats, and you’ll find large clusters of the insect in these locations.

Are wasp beetles dangerous?

Despite doing its best to convince the world that it is a wasp it does not of course have a stinger and can not do any harm. This is known as Batesian mimicry after the naturalist Henry Bates. Batesian mimicry is when an insect replicates the warning signals of another species to benefit from the deterrent but is actually harmless itself, as in this case.

What do wasp beetles eat?

When Wasp Beetles are just small grubs, they feed on the deadwood inside their habitats. Adult Wasp Beetles will feed on pollen so resembling real wasps even more. Females will need extra protein as they carry the eggs and need the strength. They will feed on other small bugs and invertebrates for the additional energy needed to lay their eggs.