European Potter Wasp
New Zealand Status: Introduced
Conservation Status: n/a
Ancistrocerus gazella, commonly called the European potter wasp or European tube wasp, is quite distinctive and easily separated from other NZ vespoids by its small size, wide body and distinctive colour pattern. Females range in length from 11- 15mm, and males from 7- 9mm. The species became established in Auckland, New Zealand in 1987 and its range now extends as far south as Otago.
As adults, Ancistrocerus gazella eat nectar and aphid honeydew. The adult female collects about 20 caterpillars for each nest, which consists of a single cell. Her larval offspring then feed on these inside the nest, which is sealed with mud. It prefers the caterpillars of leaf-roller moths which are a pest in orchards so its presence is probably more beneficial than harmful. Males cannot sting, and the sting of a female is not painful.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader