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1 October 2004 Biological Notes On Three Species of Giant Australian Mason Wasps, Abispa (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Eumeninae)
Robert W. Matthews, Janice R. Matthews
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Seven nests of Abispa australiana (Mitchell) from Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, two nests of A. splendida splendida (Guérin-Méneville) from Magnetic Island National Park, Queensland, and one nest of A. meadewaldoensis Perkins from Kununurra, West Australia constitute the most extensive sample of Abispa nests yet reported. The isolated, cryptic, mud nests had thick walls (up to 16 mm), a downward-pointing, funnel-shaped entrance tube, and an exterior plastered with numerous small mud pellets that matched substrate color. All nests were affixed to firm surfaces in semi-sheltered positions; the nest of A. meadewaldoensis was in a crevice below ground. For A. australiana, the largest nest measured 15.6 cm long × 6.9 cm wide × 4.5 cm deep, and comprised seven cells; cell dimensions averaged 33.8 mm long × 13.9 mm diameter. Females of all species appear to specialize on a few species of small pyralid or gelechiid caterpillars, provisioning cells with up to 79 prey. All 88 prey recovered from three cells of two A. australiana nests proved to be a single species of gelechiid. Provisioning type appears to differ among the three species, with A. s. splendida practicing progressive provisioning and A. meadewaldoensis and A. australiana being mass provisioners. Parasitism levels were low, with only two of 21 cells in the seven active nests attacked by an unidentified chrysidid. Unidentified sarcophagid and bombyliid fly remains were found in three previously emerged old nests; in two of these, the thick mud walls prevented sarcophagids from escaping. Both sexes were present at two A. australiana nests and one A. s. splendida nest, suggesting a wait-at-the-nest mating tactic in addition to scramble competition at water sources and nest trap-lining previously reported for A. ephippium. Another A. australiana nest found with two associated females may have been communal.

Robert W. Matthews and Janice R. Matthews "Biological Notes On Three Species of Giant Australian Mason Wasps, Abispa (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Eumeninae)," Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 77(4), 573-583, (1 October 2004).
Accepted: 1 March 2004; Published: 1 October 2004
Kakadu National Park
mating system
nesting biology
prey records
progressive provisioning
rock art conservation
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