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Bee Wolf - Philanthus triangulum
Bee Wolf - Philanthus triangulum


Bee wolf
The bee wolf (Philanthus triangulum) is a species of sphecoid wasp (Spheciformes) in the order Hymenoptera, the suborder Apocrita, the infraorder Aculeata, the superfamily Apoidea, the family Cabronidae, the subfamily Philantinae, and the genus Philanthus.
Bee Wolf - Rear view
Bee Wolf - Rear view
Philanthus triangulum are widespread in the northern hemisphere, but rare due to strong natural fluctuations in population and the use of pesticides in agriculture. Under favourable conditions, this species reproduces twice a year.
Philanthus triangulum - Bee Wolf
Philanthus triangulum - Bee Wolf
Wasp - Bee Wolf
Wasp - Bee Wolf
The head of the bee wolf is big and visibly wider than the front section of the body. The antennae are short and thicker in the middle and point forward during flight. An important characteristic of these insects is the whitish-yellow marking on the forehead, which sometimes resembles a twice or trice jagged crown. The crown-like marking differs on each bee wolf. The males have large mandibles on the head to mark out territory and attract females in the mating season.
Bee Wolf - Top view
Bee Wolf - Top view
The chest (thorax) is usually black, hairy and significantly narrower than the head. The abdomen is usually yellow with black stripes on each segment. Towards the end of each segment the stripes develop into a triangle. The segments can also be yellow-brown, reddish-brown or pure yellow in colour and the stripes can be brown instead of black, or completely missing. The first abdominal segment (propodeum) usually has dense and dotting hair on its surface. The females have a sting for defense at the rear which is missing in the males. The females have strong bristles on their front feet which they use todig. The bee wolf can easily be confused with Bembix rostrata.
Bee Wolf cleans itself (photographed on Gomera)
Bee Wolf cleans itself (photographed on Gomera)
The bee wolf is a solitary wasp and prefers warm, dry, sunny habitats. It is found in flat grassland, heaths, dry meadows and open sandy places. It can be encountered on the edges of sandy pits, on sunken roads, and also occasionally near areas populated by humans. Adult bee wolves are active from June to September.
Sphecoid wasp - Philanthus triangulum
Sphecoid wasp - Philanthus triangulum
The females dig tube-like tunnels for their eggs, into the ground in sandy slopes, roads, embankments, or even in the sandy joints between sidewalk slabs. The tunnels are 1 - 1. 5 metres in length. At the end are 5 - 7 (sometimes even more) chambers the size of pigeon eggs, which house the brood and their food. The jaws of the bee wolf are particularly robust and strongly built (is this related to the tunnel digging. They also have strong, solid spikes on their front feet which are helpful for digging.
After completion of the nests, the eggs are laid, one in each breeding cell. After 2-3 days the white maggot-like larvae hatch, and are fed with captured honey bees by the mother. The female larvae clearly receive greater consideration than the males. The larvae live inside the body of the bees. After each flight for new supplies of bees the mother bee wolf seals the entrance to the tunnel, to protect the larvae from intruders (eg beetles). When the nest is located on steep slopes, however, the entrances stay open. About a week after hatching, the larvae spin a bottle-shaped cocoon, in which they pupate.


Description of images / photos
Photography with Cameras
Nikon D3x, Nikon D300, Canon 50D
Image editing with Photoshop
1. Bee Wolf - Philanthus triangulum
2. Bee Wolf - Rear view
3. Philanthus triangulum - Bee Wolf
4. Wasp - Bee Wolf
5. Bee Wolf - Top view
6. Bee Wolf cleans itself (photographed on Gomera)
7. Sphecoid wasp - Philanthus triangulum
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