Not all wasps are yellow and black and spoil your barbecue or picnic! There are many species of wasps and can be quite variable despite being closely related. Some nest in communities like the familiar common wasp but others are solitary with the females living alone and bring up their young without hordes of workers to help.
The red-banded sand wasp (Ammophila sabulosa) is one of those solitary species. They nest underground and the sandy soil of the Purbeck heaths is ideal for them. They have an interesting way of life; having dug their burrow they then find a caterpillar or other insect larvae, often much bigger than itself, and paralyse it with their sting and then carry or drag the victim back to the burrow. Once underground they lay their eggs on their prey so that the hatchling larvae have a ready made food supply. That may seem a bit gruesome but it is actually no different to us killing a cow for our Sunday joint.The adult wasps can be seen from June through until September across dry heathland in Purbeck. There are similar species but
Read more: Red-banded Sand Wasp: living down under