Bembix rostrata

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Bembix rostrata
Bembix fg01.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Crabronidae
Genus: Bembix
Species: B. rostrata
Binomial name
Bembix rostrata
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Apis rostrata Linnaeus, 1758
  • Bembex dissecta Dahlbom, 1845
  • Bembex gallica Mocsáry, 1883
  • Bembex paradoxa Giner Marí, 1943
  • Bembex rostrata (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Bembex tarsata (Giner Marí, 1943)
  • Bembex vidua Lepeletier 1845
  • Epibembex rostrata (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Vespa armata Sulzer, 1776

Bembix rostrata is a protected species of sand wasp native to Central Europe. The genus Bembix - of which B. rostrata is among the most distinctive species - has over 340 species worldwide and is found mostly in warm regions with open, sandy soils; Australia and Africa have a particularly rich variety of species.


B. rostrata ranges in distribution from Europe and the Mediterranean to Central Asia, and as far north as Denmark and Sweden.


B. rostrata displays distinctive behaviour in front of its nest, digging its burrows with fast, synchronised movements of its forelegs. In addition, the insect can turn very rapidly about its own axis, the flapping of its wings as it does this producing a buzzing sound reminiscent of a gyroscope. Its size (15–24 mm), striking yellow and black-striped abdomen and the labrum, extended into a narrow beak, are distinctive features.


B. rostrata forms colonies between a dozen and several hundred insects, where the females each construct a tube up to 20 cm long containing a single brood cell. This is stocked with dozens of insects, predominantly large flies (Tabanidae, Syrphidae), which provide the larva with food for its two-week development to the imago stage. The female carefully re-seals the nest tube after each feeding. Because of this intensive maternal care, a female can raise at most only eight larvae during the high summer. B. rostata is very faithful to its nest sites, often nesting in the same places year-on-year, even if these change over time and alternative habitats are available.

The species has become rare due to loss of large open-sand surfaces in warm areas, such as in the sand dunes of the upper Rhine Graben. It is also the host for several parasitoids in families such as Bombyliidae, Conopidae, and Mutillidae. A cuckoo wasp which specialises in B. rostrata is Parnopes grandior.

The behaviour of B. rostrata led the famous naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre to conduct intensive studies of the species.

A sand dune near Darmstadt, in the Rhine Graben: open sandy areas like this are the typical habitat for B. rostrata.


  1. ^ "Bembix rostrata (Linnaeus, 1758) (accepted name)". Catalog of Life. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 
  • Evans, H. E. (1957). Studies on the comparative ethology of digger wasps of the genus Bembix. Ithaca: Comstock. p. 248 pp. 
  • Guichard, K. M. (1989). "The genus Bembix (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) in Arabia". Fauna of Saudi Arabia. 10: 134–151. 
  • Hemmingson, A. M. & Nielson, E. T. (1925). "Über die Lebensinstinkte der dänischen Bembix rostrata L.". Entomologiske Meddelelser (in German). 16: 14–127. 
  • Larsson, F. K. (1986). Increased nest density of the digger wasp Bembix rostrata as a response to parasites and predators (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae), Entomol. Gener. 12:71-75.[1]
  • Larsson, F. K. (1990). Female body size relationships with fecundity and egg size in two solitary species of fossorial Hymenoptera (Colletidae and Sphecidae). Entomol. Gener. 15:167-171.[2]
  • Larsson, F. K. (1991). Some take it cool, some like it hot — A comparative study of male mate searching tactics in two species of hymenoptera (Colletidae and Sphecidae). J. Therm. Biol. 16:45-51.[3]
  • Larsson, F. K. & Tengö J. (1989). It is not always good to be large; some female fitness components in a temperate digger wasp, Bembix rostrata (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) J Kansas Entomol Soc. 62:490–495.[4]

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