RES Handbook Vol 6 Part 4. Hymenoptera - Pompilidae

The family Pompilidae is one of the best-characterised and most easily recognised of the aculeate families represented in the British fauna. Known as the 'spider-hunting robber wasps' or, more simply , as 'spider wasps', they are predominantly of tropical distribution, numbering between four and five thousand species; 41 species are included in the British List, with a further three occurring in the Channel Islands. Their characteristic long-legged adult habitus (fig. 1) is complemented by their inherently agitated activity; they are readily recognisable when seeking the spiders which are the provision made for the nourishment of their larvae. They run and make short flights amongst vegetation, usually only during periods of warm sunshine, their antennae and wings in ceaseless vibration . Thus they well deserve the facetious appellation 'Hymenoptera Neurotica' which has been applied to them together with some of the other ground-running solitary aculeates. They have developed their powers of running to such a degree that they might better be termed 'cursorial' rather than 'fossorial' Hymenoptera .
Michael C. Day
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