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Just when I was thinking the wee flying critters had probably all disappeared for winter, up pops this little chap, tootling around on the top of an old fence post that I was checking out for lichen. I’m reliably informed, by experts on a couple of specialist pages on Facebook, that this is a member of the Encyrtidae, one of a large family of over 3700 different parasitic wasps (and that’s just the ones that have so far been identified – there are probably many many more).

180107 Encyrtidae parasitic wasp (1)

Information on the Natural History Museum website states that ‘About half of the species of Encyrtidae are associated with scale-insects … generally as endoparasitoids of immatures or less commonly adults’, which means the wasp’s larvae live inside and eat the larvae, and occasionally the adults, of scale-insects – not a particularly nice way to survive, I have to say. Some of these wasps are also parasitic on the larvae of moths and butterflies – also not nice. Still, the wasp itself is a pretty little thing, and some Encyrtidae species have been used as biological control agents to control insect pests, so the news isn’t all bad.

180107 Encyrtidae parasitic wasp (2)