Ectemnius continuus ♂︎

Last update: 5 July 2021
SPECIES: Ectemnius continuus




Official name


Ectemnius continuus

Crabro continuus
Hypocrabro continuus

See also:

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎


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


The diggerwasp Ectemnius continuus [1] is a common species that occurs throughout the Netherlands [2,3].

The E. continuus wasps occurring in the Benelux (Belgium Netherlands and Luxembourg) belong to the subspecies E. continuus punctatus [3,4].



The species is active from the beginning May until the beginning of October [2,4,5].


The female nests in dead wood, like branches, stubs and collapsed tree trunks. She gnaws a tunnel with branches and in each branch one or two brood cells [3,4,5,7]. Or the cells are created sequentially in a line [5]. The nest includes about 10 brood cells [3,4,5]. The main tunnel and the branches are filled with wood flour, small pieces of wood [5].
Every brood cell contains 6 to 8 prey [5].

Normally two generations are produced per year [5].

2.3. Bee hotel

The males use bee hotels as a sleeping place [6].


The adult wasps feed with plant nectar and/or pollen. In literature the following plants and groups are cited:

Composite family [3]
Umbellifers [3,4,5]
– Wild angelica (Angelica sylvestris) [2]
– Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) [2]
– Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) [2]

The garden has some umbellifers but I have not seen this species on it yet.


The species uses flies as food for her offspring [3,4,5,7].
Literature cites the following species occurring in the Netherlands:

Anthomyiidae [5,7]

Calliphoridae [4,5,7]

Tabanidae [4,7]

Muscidae [4,5,7]

Sciomyzidae [7]

Tachinidae [5,7]

Rhagionidae [5,7]

Therevidae [4,5,7]

Stratiomyiidae [7]

Syrphidae [4,5,7]


The following nest parasites of E. continuus present in the Netherlands are mentioned in the literature:

Sarcophagidae (Flesh flies)
Macronychia polyodon [17]


Length males: 8 – 12 mm
Length females: 9,5 – 14,5 mm


The genus Ectemnius can be recognized by the following characters:

1.  Frontwing with one submarginal cell [4,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, frontwing with 1 submarginal cell, specimen-1

2. Ocelli usually shaped in a obtuse isosceles triangle [3,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, Ectemnius: ocelli usually shaped in obtuse isosceles triangle, specimen-1

3. Tergites abdomen smooth with fine punctation, only on tergite 1 somewhat stronger [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, Ectemnius: tergites smooth with fine punctation, specimen-2
Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, Ectemnius: tergites smooth with fine punctation, specimen-2

4. Side thorax, metapleuron (M) and often side propodeum (P), with strong transverse wrinkles [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, Ectemnius: side thorax strongly wrinkled

5. Head in frontal view broader than high [5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, Ectemnius: head frontally wider than high

6. Side thorax (mesopleuron) has a short transverse carina in front of the middle leg coxa [4,5,8].

1. Antenna with 12 segments [3,5,8]

2. Abdomen with 6 segments [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, specimen-2
Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, specimen-1
Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, specimen-3
Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, specimen-1
Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, propodeum

  1. Antenna with 12 segments [3,5,8]
Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, antenna with 12 segments, specimen-1

2. Abdomen with 7 segments [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, abdomen with 7 segments, specimen-2


1. Antennal segment 3 abaut 2,5x longer than wide [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, antennal segment 3 about 2,5x longer than wide, specimen-1

2. Antennal segment 6 with cut out [5]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, antennal segment 6 cut out, specimen-1

3. Inner edge mandible with large triangular tooth [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, inneredge mandibel with large triangular tooth, specimen-1

4. Smooth area above the antennal base not limited with a vertical carina [5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, smooth area above antennal base without transverse carina, specimen-1
Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, smooth area above antennal base without transverse carina, specimen-1


1. Side thorax, mesopleuron, wrinkled [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, side thorax, mesopleuron, wrinkled, specimen-2

2. Mesonotum and usually tergite 1, and vertex [8] with long erect hairs [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, mesonotum, tergite 1 and vertex with long erect hairs, specimen-2

3. First and second middle leg tarsal members thorn-like elongated [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, first and second tarsal members middle leg thorn-like elongated

4. Trochanter front leg without tooth, keel or bump [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, trochanter front leg without tooth or ridge, specimen-3

5. Ventral side mesothorax with transverse carina at the front [8]

In species that do not bear this character the front is gradually rounded.

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, mesothorax with a transversal keel at front, specimen-1


1. Yellow markings on tergite 3 absent or less developed than on tergite 4 [3,5,8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, yellow marking tergite 3 less developed than on tergite 4, specimen-2
Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, yellow markings tergite 3 absent, specimen-1

2. Tergite 1 finely punctated, the space between the points several times larger than the points [8]

Ectemnius continuus ♂︎, tergite 1 finely punctated, space between points several times larger than points, specimen-2

3. Last segment without pygidium [3,5]


1 Nederlands Soortenregister


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

4 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.

5 Koch, F. (2002), Blösch, M. (2000). Die Grabwespen Deutschlands – Lebens‐weise, Verhalten, Verbreitung. 71. Teil. In Dahl, F.: Die Tierwelt Deutschlands. Begr.: 1925. – Keltern (Goecke & Evers). – 480 S. 341 Farbfotos. ISBN 3‐931374‐26‐2 (hardcover). DM 98,–. Zool. Reihe, 78: 353-353.

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

7 LELEJ, Arkady (ed.). 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, 2019, 11.2: 13195-13250.

8 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

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

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