Gasteruption jaculator (and the cucumber spider)

Apart from having one heck of a Latin name, the female of the wasp species Gasteruption jaculator has what must be one of the longest ovipositors relative to it’s size. These guys are often overlooked but relatively regular visitors to the garden.

If you happen to have a bee hotel and even luckier to have one that bees actually use, then you may see these ladies hanging about. The long ovipositor is pushed into the larval cells of solitary wasps and bees, where they will develop out of harms way chomping on the grub within. We’ve never seen this for ourselves and it would be interesting to see how strong the ovipositor is, as most of these cells seem hardened and it looks so fragile.

It’s a long way to the top of the food chain and G. jaculator is nowhere near the summit. They too run the gauntlet that is the struggle to survive long enough to pass on those all important genes. In the rather grizzly video below, which took place on our hazel tree, we see a struggle between a cucumber spider, in this case we think Araniella¬†opisthographa, and a male G.jaculator (note the lack of ovipositor).

At some stage we can only assume the spider made a successful venom bite and from then on there really only was going to be one winner in this struggle.

DC 18/06/2022

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