Chrysis inaequidens, the jewelled cuckoo wasp

Look at this gorgeous North American solitary wasp (click the image for a bigger version if you like). Now wonder about its name – why is it named after a bird? After all, cuckoos are hardly known for their brightly coloured plumage. The answer lies in its lifestyle. Cuckoo wasps are so named because they […]

Why are there no really big insects any more? Blame birds.

It’s no secret that 300 million years ago, the largest insects were a lot bigger than they are now. The largest known insect that ever lived is an ancient griffenfly Meganeuropsis permiana. This creature belongs to the extinct order of griffinflies (Protodonata) – related to dragonflies –  and measured an impressive 71cm across, larger than most birds. There […]

Buglife rides forth yet again

It really does seem to be like the butterfly that stamped. If you’ve been following the story of small charity Buglife on this blog you will recall its legal challenge intended to prevent development on West Thurrock Marshes, a former industrial site now very rich in invertebrate biodiversity. Buglife made its own alternative stamps showing […]

The butterfly that stamped… Buglife sees off Royal Mail at West Thurrock?

The most ironic marketing gaffe ever, and then an apparent u-turn by Royal Mail: did plucky little conservation charity Buglife really pull off this campaign coup? For those who haven’t been keeping up, see this post – or here’s a summary: Royal Mail have been planning to build a depot on a marshland full of […]

What is the purpose of wasps?

What use are wasps? A perennial question. “Why did God make wasps?” is even asked as a theological poser – usually as a rhetorical question that can’t be answered. It is a question that comes with its own implied criticism – after all, nobody would ask “what is the purpose of butterflies?” (zero Google results […]

Invasion of the giant hornets… or is it?

There’s a buzz going about… and it’s created by a load of hornets. Regular readers will know about the Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia, which has been causing a bit of debate. Quite a few people emailed The Ranger or posted to the blog, worried (or interested) that they might have found a specimen of […]

Check out this massive wasp

We heard you wanted to see a picture of a simply gigantic wasp. So here it is. The Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia   Q. Have I got one of these? A. Lots of people have emailed and commented (see below) worrying that they have a specimen of V. mandarinia in their garden or house. […]