Hilltopping Leucospis gigas

Hilltopping Leucospis gigas

Postby Gerard Pennards on 21 Jul 2008, 16:25

I have been on holiday on the greek island of Zakynthos, where I, among other places, visited the highest point of the Island (Mount Vrachionas, 756 meters) on the 12th of July.
Among the expected hilltoppers like certain Diptera and Lepidoptera there were a lot of Leucospidae flying around.
Some were concentrated around the stone that marked the highest point, but also a lot around that spot sitting on bushes and stones.
In total I counted more than 200 leucospids in about an hour, and that was just a part of the total number.
I tryed to find males as well, but didn't succeed. I collected a few female specimens.
In general I found several species of Leucospis on the island, I will post some pictures for identification later.
Is anyone familiar with Hilltopping of Leucospidae?
Greetings, Gerard Pennards
Leucospisberg.JPG
The mountain top
Attachments
Leucospis gigas2.JPG
female2
Leucospis gigas.JPG
female1
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Re: Hilltopping Leucospis gigas

Postby Gerard Pennards on 21 Jul 2008, 16:28

Another picture
Attachments
Leucospisberg3.JPG
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Re: Hilltopping Leucospis gigas

Postby Christian on 21 Jul 2008, 21:24

Its a really strange observation. Are you sure that it was gigas (intermedia is somewhat similar)? Normally, hilltopping is used to find the other sex for mating, but gigas is phartogenetic in Europe (only females exists, I don't know the true english word), what may explain that you not could find males. But then, hilltopping is without any sense. Or they like to fly into the sun. 200 specimens is a lot, because normally Leucospis is not so common. Did you also found mud nests of a Megachile-Chalcicodoma species nearby?

I send an Email with this link to Hannes Baur in Bern, a specialist for Leucospidae. Perhaps he knows anything useful. But he is in holidays for the moment.

Regards, Christian
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Re: Hilltopping Leucospis gigas

Postby Gerard Pennards on 21 Jul 2008, 22:34

Dear Christian.
Thanks for your answer!
Well, I identified the specimens I collected with Peck and Boucek (Keys to the Chalcidoidea of Czechoslovakia), and indeed I ended up with gigas.
The basal funicle segments are longer than wide and reddish, in intermedia they should be as long as wide and black (I think I also collected those elsewhere on the island). Furthermore they are very big, about 15 mm. But I'm by no means an expert in this family, so I could be mistaken.
I can make pictures of the collected specimens (6 females) and place them on the forum if needed.
Peck and Boucek also stated that there are only females in Europe and so the species is parthenogenetic, and indeed that is why I wondered about this clearly hilltopping behaviour.
Whether they enjoyed the sun I don't know, maybe they preferred the bit more cooler mountaintop, as it was very hot (40 degrees celsius) on the lower parts. On the other hand, the mountain is not that high (756 meters) that it is really much cooler.

Near the top stone of the mountain (first picture) they formed a group of sometimes 50 to 60 animals, sitting on the stones in the sun or flying together.
Around that top there was a rather big flat plane that forms the mountain top, and there you could find them everywhere on the stones and bushes, whereas lower on the mountain I found none.
I forgot to add that when I visited the mountain 2 days later it was more windy on the top and all of the Leucospids were gone, I saw not a single specimen.
About bees, I remember having seen some Megachile, but as I'm not a Hymenopterist I don't know what species, and I didn't collect them.
Greetings, Gerard
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Re: Hilltopping Leucospis gigas

Postby jorgemotalmeida on 25 Jul 2008, 12:42

what were the "hilltopping" diptera you saw? :)
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Re: Hilltopping Leucospis gigas

Postby Simo V. on 30 Jul 2008, 08:30

Nice pics, but yet an another wasp family missing from Nordic countries. :(

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/ ... pidae.html

Uniparental reproduction is rare but is known in European populations of Leucospis gigas (Berland, 1934a) and is suspected in other species (Bytinski-Salz, 1963).


What does this mean, that there are some European populations with males, or that all European populations are parthenogenetic?
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