Cerceris arenaria (Sand tailed diggerwasp)♀︎♂︎

Last update: 13 February 2022


SPECIES: Sand tailed diggerwasp (Cerceris arenaria)




Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, 16mm
Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, 10mm


1. Distribution
2. Behaviour
3. Plant relations
4. Prey relations
5. Parasitic relations
6. Identification


The Sand tailed diggerwasp (Cerceris arenaria) [1] is a common species in almost the whole of the Netherlands [2].



The species is active from May to September [2,3].


The female digs a nest in the ground, in sand or dense clay [4], with a length of 10 to 40 cm, the first stretch of which is vertically oriented and than bends off horizontally. Cell construction starts at the end of the burrow in the horizontal part and expands into the direction of the entrance [14]. Each subsequent cell is dug from the main corridor and will be located closer to the entrance. In the horizontal part she will make four to ten cells [6] that will be filled with five to ten prey animals as food for the larvae [3].

The species reuses existing nests for years in a row, like other Cerceris species [6]. This is a phenomena called philopatry. The practice will result in a colony, which can contain hundreds of nests per square meter [3].
Still the species is regarded as solitairy based on the facts of the width of the used prey spectrum (solitary < social), the nuber of cells per nest (solitary < social) and the prey size which results in higher number of prey per cell when the prey size is small (solitary < social) [13].

Established colonies are rather static and do not expand in size because no new nests are dug [6]. Existing nests may be expanded from the inside by digging a new tunnel and cells [6,14].
A new female emerging from a nest will first make an orientation flight accros the colony to choose a nest to use for herself. This nest can either be the nest she emerged from or, in case it is already occupied, another one [6]. Confrontations between the resident and searching wasps are for a large part determined by their repsective sizes (larger > smaller) and status (resident > searcher) [7]. Only few wasps wil leave the colony to nest elsewhere [6].

2.3. Beehotel

C. arenaria males want to use beehotels as a place to sleep [10].


The adult waps feed with nectar and/or pollen. The following plants groups are cited in literature as foodplant [5]:

RhamnaceaeFrangula alnus [3]
ApicaceaeFoeniculum vulgare [9]

I’ve observed the species foraging on the following plants in the garden:

Asteraceae– Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)
Apicaceae– Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fabaceae– White melilot (Melilotus albus)


The species hunts adult [13] beetles from the family of Snout beetles (Curculionidae) [3] for feeding its larvae. The size of the prey is proportional to the size of the female, which give larger females a broader choice in prey [8]. The following species present in the Netherlands are cited in literature:

(COLEOPTERA, Curculionidae)

Brachyderes [4]
Bromius [4]
Comobaris (syn. Baris)Cosmobaris scolopacea [5]
DonusDonus intermedius [5]
Curculio [4]
Hylobius [4]
Hypera [5]Hypera postica [5]
Hypera rumicis [5]
Hypera nigrirostris [5]
LarinusLarinus turbinatus [5]
LepyrusLepyrus capucinus [5]
Otiorhynchus [4]Otiorhyncus armadillo [5]
Otiorhyncus rugosostriatus [5]
Otiorhyncus ovatus [5]
Otiorhyncus sulcatus [5]
Pissodes [4]
Polydrusus [5]Polydrusus formosus [15]
Sitona [4]Sitona hispidulus [5]
Strophosoma [4]
Tanymecus [4]

The following species have been observed in the garden:

(COLEOPTERA, Curculionidae)
Polydrusus formosus


The following C. arenaria nest parasites present in the Netherlands are cited in literature:



Leucophora [3]
Leucophora cinerea [4]


Metopia [3]
Metopia argyrocephala [16]

Miltogramma [3]
Miltogramma punctatum [4]

Pterella [3]


Chrysididae (Cuckoo wasps)

Chrysis ignita [4]

Hedychrum niemelai [4]
Hedychrum nobile [3]
Hedychrum rutilans [3]


Smicromyrme rufipes [4]


– Zwarte zaadmier (Tetramorium caespitum) [4]

The following nest parasites have been observed in the garden:


Leucophora sp.

Metopia sp.

Chrysididae (Cuckoo wasps)
Chrysis ignita


Length males: 9 – 15 mm
Length females: 10 – 16 mm


Specimen of the genus Cerceris are recognisable by the following characters:

1.  Three submarginal cells [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, frontwing with three submarginal cells

2. Second submarginal cell petiolate, does not reach radial cell [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, second submarginal cell petiolate

3. Tip radial cell rounded [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, tip radial cell rounded

4. First abdominal segment looking from above strongly narrowed compared with the second segment [11], the other segments separated from each other by constrictions [12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, first abdominal segment from above strongly narrowed compared to segment two

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, 16mm
Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, 16mm
Cerceris arenaria ♀︎
Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, 16mm

1. Antenna with twelve segments [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, antenna with 12 segments

2. Abdomen with six segments [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, abdomen with 6 segments

3. Sternite 2 without basal elevated part [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, sternite II without elevated area at base

As comparison to sternite 2 in C. rybyensis that has an elavated part at its base.

Cerceris rybyensis ♂, Sternite II with basal elevation

4. Apical edge tergite 2 yellow [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, apical edge tergite II yellow

5. Thorax, including tegula, with yellow markings [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, thorax, including tegula, with yellow markings

6. Punctation abdomen coarse, spaces between punctations smaller than punctations [11]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, punctation abdomen coarse and dense

7. Dorsal field propodeum with angled grooves [12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, Krimpen a/d IJssel (NL), dorsal field propodeum with oblique grooves

8. Length basal lobe (L) hindwing at most 1/3 length anal cell (A), at most 2x longer than wide [12]

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, basal lobe (L) hind wing at most 1/3 longer than length anal cell (A)

9. Pygidium large and rectangular in shape

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, pygidium large and rectangular in shape

10. Center lobe clypeus wider than long, with thin black lamella, lower edge clypeus either lightly indented or straight

Cerceris arenaria ♀︎, middle lobe clypeus (C) wider than long, clypeus with thin black lamella (L)

Snuittorrendoder ♂︎ (Cerceris arenaria), 10mm
Snuittorrendoder ♂︎ (Cerceris arenaria), 10mm
Snuittorrendoder ♂︎ (Cerceris arenaria)
Snuittorrendoder ♂︎ (Cerceris arenaria), 10mm

1. Antenna with 13 segments [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, antenna with 13 segments

2. Abdomen with 7 segments [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, abdomen with 7 segments

3. Tergite 2 apical edge with yellow band [11,12]

4. Yellow bands on tergites 2 and 3 in almost all specimen equal in width [12]

5. Punctation tergites coarse and dense, space between punctation not or barely larger than punctation [12]

6. Tergite 4 distance between punctation smaller than punctation [11]

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, apical edge tergite 2 yellow

5. Sternite 2 without elevated area at it’s base [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, sternite 2 base without elavated area

6. Sternite 7 with long hair that point to the center line of the body

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, sterniet 7 with long hairs pointing towards center line of body

7. Lower edge clypeus black [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, apical edge clypeus black

8. Base clypeus more arched than the lower part seen from the side, clypeal tooth clearly protruding (T) [11]

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, base clypeus more arched than lower part, clypeal tooth clearly protruding (T)

9. Thorax often with yellow marking on tegula, scutellum and shoulders [11,12]

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, thorax usually with yellow markings

10. Underside femur 2 short haired [12]

Snuittorrendoder ♂︎ (Cerceris arenaria), onderzijde dij 2 kort behaard

11. Femur 3 almost bold [11]

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, femur 3 almost bold (without long hairs)

12. Last antennal segment clearly bent, with some long hairs at the underside

Cerceris arenaria ♂︎, last antennal segment clearly bent, underside with a few long hairs

13. Length basal lobe hindwing at most 1/3 length anal cell, at most 2x longer than wide [12]


1 Nederlands Soortenregister

2 Waarneming.nl

3 Peeters, T.M.J., C. van Achterberg, W.R.B. Heitmans, W.F. Klein, V. Lefeber, A.J. van Loon, A.A. Mabelis, H. Nieuwen-huijsen, M. Reemer, J. de Rond, J. Smit, H.H.W. Velthuis, 2004. De wespen en mieren van Nederland (Hymenoptera: Aculeata). – Nederlandse Fauna 6. Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Naturalis, Leiden, knnv Uitgeverij, Utrecht & European Invertebrate Survey – Nederland, Leiden.

4 Ruchin, Alexander & Antropov, Alexander. (2019). Wasp fauna (Hymenoptera: Bethylidae, Chrysididae, Dryinidae, Tiphiidae, Mutillidae, Scoliidae, Pompilidae, Vespidae, Sphecidae, Crabronidae & Trigonalyidae) of Mordovia State Nature Reserve and its surroundings in Russia. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 11. 13195-13250. 10.11609/jott.4216.11.2.13195-13250.

5 POLIDORI, Carlo, et al. Temporal Relationship between the Prey Spectrum and Population Structure of the Weevil-Hunting Wasp Cerceris arenaria(Hymenoptera: Crabronidae). Zoological studies, 2007, 46.1: 83-91.

6 POLIDORI, Carlo, et al. Philopatry, nest choice, and aggregation temporal–spatial change in the digger wasp Cerceris arenaria (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae). Journal of ethology, 2006, 24.2: 155-163.

7 POLIDORI, Carlo. Nest Abandonment in the Solitary Wasp Cerceris arenaria (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae): Escape, Leave Open or Destroy. Sociobiology, 2006, 47.2.

8 Polidori, Carlo & Boesi, Roberto & Isola, Francesco & Andrietti, Francesco. (2005). Provisioning patterns and choice of prey in the digger wasp Cerceris arenaria (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae): The role of prey size. European Journal of Entomology. 102. 801-804. 10.14411/eje.2005.111.

9 Skaldina, Oksana. (2020). Insects associated with sweet fennel: beneficial visitors attracted by a generalist plant. Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 10.1007/s11829-020-09752-x.

10 Breugel, P. van 2014. Gasten van bijenhotels. – EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten en andere ongewervelden & Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden.

11 KLEIN, Wim. De graafwespen van de Benelux. Jeugdbondsuitgeverij, Utrecht, 1996, 1-130. + KLEIN, Wim. De graafwespen van de Benelux: supplement. Jeugdbondsuitgeverij, 1999.

12 Hermann Dollfuss, "Bestimmungsschlüssel der Grabwespen Nord- und Zentraleuropas (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae) mit speziellen Angaben zur Grabwespenfauna Österreichs", Publikation der Botanischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft am O.Ö.Landesmuseum Linz, LINZ, 20. Dezember 1991

13 Polidori, Carlo. (2011). The role of increased prey spectrum and reduced prey size in the evolution of sociality in Cerceris wasps.

14 Bohart, R.M. & A.S. Menke, 1976. Sphecid wasps of the world: a generic revision. - University of California Press, 695 p.

15 Dr. Guido Bohne, 2014, iNaturalist: observation predator relation Cerceris arenaria ➧ Polydrusus formosus

16 POVOLNY, D. The flesh-flies of Central Europe (Insecta, Diptera, Sarcophagidae). Spixiana supplement, 1997, 24: 1-260.

17 PAUKKUNEN, Juho, et al. An illustrated key to the cuckoo wasps (Hymenoptera, Chrysididae) of the Nordic and Baltic countries, with description of a new species. ZooKeys, 2015, 548: 1.

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