Passaloecus corniger♂︎

Last update: 19 June 2023


SPECIES: Passaloecus corniger




Official name:


Passaloecus corniger [1]

Pemphredon corniger (Shuckard 1932)

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Passaloecus corniger ♂︎


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



Passaloecus corniger is an uncommon wasp [2] that occurs throughout the Netherlands with an exception of the Wadden islands and is scarcer in the West [3].



The species is active from the end of May to the beginning of September [3].

Nests are constructed between June and August. Often two generations per year [5,17], the first generation emerges in August from from the June nests [5,17].



The females gnaw their nests in the marrow of natural tube-shaped plant stems [3,4,13,17], but use abandoned insect burrows as well [3,4,13], for example the burrow of the weevil genus Xylosandrus [7].

She prefers nest holes with a a diameter of 1-3 mm [3,5,15,18] at a height of 50 – 250cm [15]. Existing cavities may be excavated further [15]. Usually passaloecus nests are unbranched [4,21] with cell linearly positined behind each other. The nest plug of the rear cell forms the back of the next cell [21]. By exception an empty cell may be constructed between two filled cells, the intercary cell [21]. One or more cells behind the nest plug, the vestibular cells, may be empty [21]. See also nest architecture.
The plugs between cells and the nest plug are made of light or dark resin [3,4,5,15,18,21] of pine trees [15]. The resin of the nest plug is decorated with plant matter or excrements [15,18], potentially as camouflage [15].

Some females simultaneously built two or more nests [15]. Nests of previous seasons can be reused and are cleaned first [15].

Generally Passaloecus nest cells are filled with 6-60 prey specimen [4].


Passaloecus eggs are whitish and sausage-shaped [21]. The egg is usually attached ventrally or laterally on the prey [4,21]. The position of the prey with the egg in the nest is variable [4,21].


The species gladly use bee hotels to nest in [17,18].

As far as I know the species has not yet nested in the garden bee hotels, possibly because the smallest boring hole is 3mm in size.


The males show courting behaviour to get the female in the mood for mating [5,18]. The entire act of mating, including the courting, will take about 30 minutes or longer [5]. This is extensively described in [BLÖSCH] [5] and [BREUGEL] [18].


Caught prey seems not to get stung [15] but is instead paralysed by a bite in the neck using the jaws [13,16]. Poison analyses shows Passaloecus poison does not induce paralysis [16].

P. corniger seems to steal from other species in the Passaloecus genus [3,9,12,13] and sometimes from the Crabronidae genus Psenulus [5,18], P. fuscipennis [18], and Pemphredon, P. lugens [18].

Extensive observation sets [15] show P. corniger stealing all her prey from other Passaloecus species, a.o. P. gracilis and P. insignis. These species had no trouble finding prey in an area of 15m in radius from their nests and reach a provision velocity of one to some minutes per prey specimen. This showed prey was readily available. Still no observations were made of P. corniger hunitng herself but instead robbing all prey specimen from surrounding Passaloecus species, among which P. corniger, in the direct surroundings of about 10-20cm from her own nest.
Other observers have not observed this behaviour [17] , potentially because the behaviour pays off in a dense population around the nesting location [12].

Since the nests being robbed are close to the robbers’ nest she can reach a high provision velocity, sometimes even carrying two prey specimen at a time. The velocity may become to much for the owner who eventually abandons the nest [15].

The larva present in the robbed nest cell may be removed by the robber [15].

In this observation the nests being robbed were closed at most three days before by the owner [15].

Typically the robber waits until the owner has left the nest but accidental encounters may occur in which the owner is still present or surprises the robber with it’s return. During the ensuing skirmish the robber will try to sting the adversary with its stinger [15].



The following wood types are mentioned in literature as medium for the wasp to built her nests in:

(Moschatel family)

Sambucus (Elder) [4]
(Cashew familye)

Rhus (Sumac) [4]
(Birch family)

Alnus incana (Grey alder) [6]

Corylus avellana (Common hazel) [6]
(Honeysuckle family)

Symphoricarpos (Snowberry) [4]
Euonymus (Spindle) [4]
Cornaceae [4]
Cornus [4]
Fagus sylvatica (Beech) [6]
( in boreholes of Ptilinus pectinicornis )

Quercus (Oak) [4]
Quercus robur (English oak) [6]
(Pine family)

Cedrus (Cedar) [4]

Picea abies (Norway spruce) [6]
(Grasses) [4]

Arundo [4]

Bamboo [4]
(Rose family)

Rosa (Rose) [15]

Rubus (Blackberry) [17]
(Soapberry family)

Acer pseudoplatanus (Sycamore) [7]
(in drillholes of Xylosandrus (Coleoptera, Curculionidae))

Nests are made as well in pine bark, decayed wood and old lumber and beams [12]. Also galls are used [3,4], of the Chloropidae (Frit flies) genus Lipara [5,17 on Phragmites]

The species collects resin from pine trees which is used for nest construction. The following tree species are mentioned in literature:

(Pine family)

Pinus nigra (Black pine) [15]
Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) [15]


The following plant species are mentioned in literature as food sources:

Apiaceae [19]
Asteraceae [5]
(Composite family)

Cirsium (Thistle)
Cirsium arvense (Creeping thistle) [5,17]

Solidago (Goldenrod) [5,8,17]
(Stonecrop family)

Sedum (Stonecrop) [5,8,17]

Male wasps lick honeydew from leafs [15]. Possibly females feed with aphids [15].

Garden species

The garden provides some of these food plants but I have not observed the species on it yet.


Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel)

Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip)
(Composite family)

Solidago (Goldenrod)
(Stonecrop family)

Sedum (Stonecrop)


The species uses nymphs and adult [13] aphids (Aphidoidea) for her brood [3,5,9,12].

The following species and group occurring in the Netherlands [1] are mentioned in literature:

Aphidoidea (Aphids) [3,9,12]


The following species and groups occurring in the Netherlands [1] are mentioned in literature:

(Chalcid wasps)


Eurytoma nodularis [3,17]
(Cuckoo wasps)

Omalus *
– Omalus auratus [17,20]
Omalus aeneus [3,5,17,20]
Omalus puncticollis [5]

Trichrysis cyanea [3]

Pseudomalus *
Pseudomalus auratus [13]
➡︎ brood idiobiont ectoparasitoid (eats food stock and larva) [14]
Pseudomalus violaceus [13,20]
(Ichneumon wasps)

Poemenia collaris [3,17]
Poemenia notata [3,17]
*cuckoo wasp female does not enter the nest, instead parasitizes a living aphid that is then caught by the Passaloecus female and brought to the nest [8]


Length males: 7,5 – 10 mm
Length females: 10 – 11,5 mm


The genus Passaloecus can be identified using the following characters:

1.  1.  Forewing: with two submarginal cells [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, Passaloecus: front wing with two submarginal cells

2. Forewing: with two cubital cells [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, Passaloecus: front wing with two cubital cells

3. Forewing: second submarginal cell not petiolate [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, Passaloecus: second submarginal cel not petiolate

4. Forewing: marginal cell pointed [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, Passaloecus: marginal cell pointed

5. Forewing: stigma considerably smaller than marginal cell [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, Passaloecus: stigma (S) considerably smaller than marginal cell (M)

6. Head: inner edge eyes parallel [10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, inner edge eyes parallel

7. Head: clypeus without side lobes [10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, passaloecus: clypeus without side lobes

8. Side thorax (mesopleuron): smooth or very finely punctated [9,10,11]
9. Side thorax (mesopleuron): with one or two horizontal pit rows [9,10,11] (here two)
[JACOBS] mentions hypersternaulus (H) and mesopleuraulus (M) [10]
[DOLFUSS] [11] and [BOHART & MENKE] mention the scrobal sulcus for mesopleuraulus [11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, Passaloecus: mesopleuron with one or two horizontal pit rows (here two)

10. Thorax: pronotum not enlarged, hind edge does not reach tegula [10,11]

11. Thorax: notauli do not reach hind edge mesonotum [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, passaloecus: notauli do not reach rear edge mesonotum

12. Thorax: hind tibia dorsally without thorns [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, passaloecus: hind tibia dorsally without thorns

13. Abdomen: black [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, passaloecus: abdomen black

14. Abdomen: female without pygydium [9,10,11]

1. Antenna with 12 segments [9,10,11]

2. Abdomen with 6 segments [9,10,11]

3. Tergite 6 without pygidium [9,10,11]

4. Sternite 7 without spine-like tip [10]


1. Frons with thorn between antennae [9,10,11], as long as the width of the third antennal segment [9,11]

2. Clypeus: front edge with three teeth [9,10,11]

3. Clypeus: densely silver haired [9,10,11]

4. Clypeus: as wide as labrum [11]

5. Labrum rounded [9,10], not heart-shaped [11]


1. Side thorax (mesopleuron): with two clear pit rows [9,10,11]

2. Side thorax (mesopleuron): clearly punctated [9,10,11]

3. Side thorax (mesopleuron): vertical pit row consists of one row of pits [9,10,11]


specimen caught for photo identification on 15-vii-2021, length ±6mm

specimen 2 caught for photo identification on 9-vi-2022, length ±6mm

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎
Passaloecus corniger ♂︎
Passaloecus corniger ♂︎
Passaloecus corniger ♂︎ (specimen 2)
Passaloecus corniger ♂︎
Passaloecus corniger ♂︎
Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, imago

  1. Antenna with 13 segments [9,10,11]
Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, antenna with 13 segments

2. Abdomen with 7 segments [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, abdomen with seven segments

3. Clypeus densely silver haired [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎

4. Tergite 6 without pygidium [9,10,11]

5. Last sternite with spine-like tip [10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, tip last sternite spine-like


2. Antenna: segments 8-12 apically slanted [10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, segments 8-12 slanted apically

3. Antenna: segments 8-12 with tyloids [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, segments 8-12 with tyloids

4. Antenne: underside apical segments black [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, underside apical segments black

5. Head: clear thorn between antennae [9,10,11] its length almost equal to the width of antennal segment 3 [9,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, frons with clear thorn between antennae its length almost equal to width antennal segment 3


  1. Side thorax (mesopleuron): with twee horizontal pit rows, hypersternaulus (H) and mesopleuraulus (M)
    [DOLLFUSS] mentions scrobal sulcus instead of mesopleuraulus.
Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, Passaloecus: mesopleuron with two horizontal pit rows

2. Side thorax (mesopleuron): with single vertical pit row (episternal sulcus) [10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, mesopleuron with single vertical pit row

2. Side thorax (mesopleuron): finely punctated, without or with weakly developed microsculpture [9,10,11]

Passaloecus corniger ♂︎, mesopleuron clearly punctated without or with weakly developed microsculpture



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10 JACOBS, H. J (2007): Die Grabwespen Deutschlands Ampulicidae. Sphecidae, Crabronidae–Bestimmungsschlüssel in Blank, SM & Taeger, A (Hrsg): Die Tierwelt Deutschlands und der angrenzenden Meeresteile nach ihren Merkmalen und nach ihrer Lebensweise, Hymenoptera III–Keltern, Goecke & Evers, 79: 1-207.

11 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

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14 TSUNEKI, Katsuji. Ethological studies on the Japanese species of Pemphredon (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae), with notes on their parasites, Ellampus spp.(Hym., Chrysididae)(With 5 Text-figures). 北海道大學理學部紀要, 1952, 11.1: 57-75.

15 Corbet, Sarah & BACKHOUSE, M.. (2009). Aphid-hunting wasps: a field study of Passaloecus. Ecological Entomology - ECOL ENTOMOL. 127. 11-30. 10.1111/j.1365-2311.1975.tb00549.x.

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20 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.

21 VINCENT, David Lowell. A revision of the genus Passaloecus (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) in America North of Mexico. Wasmann Journal of Biology, 1978.

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