Comprehensive Description

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Comprehensive Description

Cerceris fumipennis is a ground-nesting solitary wasp native to eastern North America. It is mainly black, with smoky blue/brown wings and a single yellow/cream colored band across the distinctively shaped abdomen. Nests of different females are constructed in loose aggregations. The female hunts buprestid wood-boring beetles, paralyzes them with her stinger, and brings them back to provision her nest. As the last beetle is placed into each cell within the nest, she lays an egg on it and closes off the cell. When the egg hatches, the emerged wasp grub consumes the living beetles. Cerceris fumipennis has received considerable attention as a potentially invaluable "biosurveillance" tool to detect early invasions by the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), an Asian buprestid first detected in North America in 2002 that has caused severe damage to native ashes in several areas. Although host preferences of C. fumipennis are too broad to make it a practical biocontrol agent, it has proved to be very effective in detecting the presence of A. planipennis in an area well before it might otherwise be detected. Monitoring programs involving batteries of mobile colonies which can be deployed wherever they are needed, in which incoming prey items are documented (and sometimes sampled) by human volunteers, are now operating in numerous U.S. states and Canadian provinces. (Careless and Marshall 2010; http://www.cerceris.info)

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© Shapiro, Leo

Source: EOL Rapid Response Team

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