During the last months we received some records about insects misidentified that were confused with Vespa velutina. In Italy, there are 23 species of social wasps and a wide variety of other insects species. Often their colours and flight behaviours could trick an unexperienced observer. One of the most common case of misidentification is linked to Megascolia maculata flavifrons (Fabricius, 1775) (photo).
Members of the genus Megascolia are insects belonging to the order Hymenoptera, which includes large size and brightly coloured species. Female hunt for scarab beetle larvae, they burrow into the ground in search of their preys and paralyze their victims using their sting, in order to lay an egg onto them. Megascolia larvae will consume still living beetle larvae and consequently kill them. This species is very common in some periods of the year, it can be easily spotted when searching for its favourite prey (larvae of the scarab beetle Oryctes nasicornis L.) in stumps and dead woods.
These species are not strictly social insects and do not live in colonies: they form temporary aggregations only when females are looking for larvae or during the emergence of new individuals. Even if Megascolia species belong to the superfamily of Vespoidea, they are harmless and could sting humans only if grasped with hands. Megascolia are important species for biodiversity; in addition, they could act as a biocontrol agent, and sometimes they could be used in strategies against dangerous beetles. Killing individuals of this species is not only an unnecessary measure, but could also be a threat for biodiversity.
Because of these identification difficulties, the LIFE STOPVESPA Project has prepared a flyer in order to facilitate the identification of species commonly confused with the Asian hornet Vespa velutina. The flyer might be useful also for all the people involved in species identification and nest destruction activities.
If you are not sure of the species that you have spotted, please contact us throughout our website, www.vespavelutina.eu, or at the following mobile number, +39 335 667 3358, also in order to avoid unnecessary control actions against species which play an important role for our ecosystem.
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