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UK Nature > Beetles > Metoecus paradoxus
Common Name: Wasp Nest Beetle
Scientific Name: Metoecus paradoxus
Metoecus paradoxus, more commonly known as the Wasp Nest Beetle, is is a rather odd-looking, almost fly-like, insect about 10 mm long with narrow pointed elytra which do not completely cover the wings or abdomen. It has feathery antennae and is a parasite of wasps' nests, hence its common name. Normally associated with underground wasps' nests but several have been found emerging from wasps' nests in house roof spaces. The adults emerge during the summer months.
This species has a fascinating life history which was only worked out in Victorian times. The adult lays eggs on rotting wood in the hope that a wasp will visit to harvest wood fibre for its nest. If one does, the beetle larva tries to climb onto the back of the wasp and is transported to the nest. It then seeks out a wasp grub and parasitises it. The beetle grows and pupates and emerges as an adult just after the time the wasp would have done. This species is widespread but not common in Britain.
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