Center for Systematic Entomology, Gainesville, Florida
Additional observations on the nesting behavior of Miscophus (Nitelopterus) californicus (Ashmead) (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae)
Date of this Version
Frank E. Kurczewski, Alice J. Abela and Darrell Ubick, Additional observations on the nesting behavior of Miscophus (Nitelopterus) californicus (Ashmead) (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae). Insecta Mundi 0773: 1–4
Close-up photographs of nest entry, nest closure and prey transport taken on sandy coastal back dunes in Santa Barbara County, CA by Alice J. Abela substantiate and enhance written descriptions of these nesting behavior components in Miscophus californicus (Ashmead) [=M. laticeps (Ashmead)] (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae). Dictynidae (Dictyna Sundevall or Emblyna Chamberlin) is introduced as a new host family and host spider leg amputation is revealed for the first time for this small miscophine wasp.
Miscophus (Nitelopterus) californicus (Ashmead) (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae) is a small (4.5–7.0 mm) Nearctic miscophine wasp that ranges from California and Arizona north to southern Alberta and Saskatchewan (M. Buck, Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, AB, 2020 pers. comm.). This species is extremely common in California with larger black individuals inhabiting relict sand dunes along the Pacific Coast (Wasbauer 1978). The females excavate short shallow burrows in friable soil and hunt various tiny spiders which they immobilize with a sting in the cephalothorax. They transport the prey forward in flight or on the ground, depending on its relative size and weight, and return periodically to an open or closed nest entrance holding the spider face forward and venter to venter. They release the prey on the ground in that position, enter the burrow, pull the spider inside, and, after several spiders are deposited within and oviposition on a single prey occurs, close the burrow and entrance with loose soil.
The nesting behavior of Miscophus californicus [as M. laticeps (Ashmead)] was studied in 2010, 2011 and 2012 at Montaña de Oro State Park, San Luis Obispo County, CA by Kurczewski et al. (2012) to clarify variation in previous reports on this species. Voucher specimens from this study were collected from coastal sand dunes in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, CA, deposited in the University of California–Davis R.M. Bohart Insect Museum, and identified as M. laticeps by L.S. Kimsey, University of California–Davis. This study was basically in agreement with that on M. californicus by Powell (1967) and in disagreement with the study of M. laticeps by Cazier and Mortenson (1965). Miscophus laticeps is a heretofore previously unpublished synonym of M. californicus in Joanne Slansky Wasbauer’s (1978) Ph. D. Thesis from the University of California–Davis (L.S. Kimsey, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA, 2020 pers. comm.).
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