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Pollen Wasp

 Vespidae Masarinae

Bee Aware of Your Native Bees Facebook Posts

From: Ken Walker: Museums Victoria


Ken Walker This is a Pollen Wasp : Vespidae Masarinae. Like bees, masarine wasps use pollen to feed their young rather than animal tissue but the wasps do not have any branched hairs so they eat the pollen. They construct mud nests so this individual will be collecting water to mix with dirt to make mud. It is a small and discrete group of wasps - only two Australian genera. They are not often seen let alone photographed.


Ken Walker Hey Patrick. Your images and the record are valuable science. Currently, our national Biodiversity database/website, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), does not have a single record or image for any of these pollen wasps (see attached image). I seek your permission to reproduce your images, with full credit to you as the photographer, on the BowerBird citizen science website which will then upload your images on to ALA. I need both your permission and a location (rather than NW NSW) and I will do the rest. Thanks for your consideration.

Hi Patrick,
I have returned from holidays this week to the pleasant and most welcome package of the masarine wasps from your property.  I was very excited to place them under the microscope and have a detailed look.
The specimens travelled well inside the CD plastic case -- great idea!!
Overnight, I have relaxed the specimens in a humidifier.  This relaxes the muscles of the wasps and allowed me to reposition the abdomen, legs and wings.  If I had tried to reposition these parts on the dried specimen then they would have broken apart.
I have now pinned the two wasps and repositioned their body parts to allow maximum viewing of the diagnostic features.  I will soon label them and they will become a permanent part of the Museum's insect collection.  We have specimens in the collection dating back to 1742.
Many thanks again for your assistance and efforts in documenting this rare part of the Australian fauna.
Best wishes,


Dr Ken Walker
Senior Curator, Entomology
Museums Victoria

From: Megan Halcroft (Site Admin of FB: Bee Aware of Your Native Bees)

January 12 at 2:25pm

Once again, I’d like to thank the members of this group for their generosity and inquisitive interactions.

Recently there was a post by Patrick Johnston, who lives near Moree, NSW. He posted a request for the ID of an unusual wasp, who was collecting water (his photo attached).

As the conversation and interactions grew, so did the knowledge. Thanks to Ken Walker, from the Victoria Museum, for his tireless support of this group.

As a result of the conversations here, Ken (also with support of a colleague from the American Museum of Natural History in New York) has been able to ID the wasp as a rarely sighted/ recorded pollen wasp, (Vespidae Masarinae, Paragia decipiens aliciae). Ken has enlightened the few followers of this thread and I wanted to share this knowledge with all of you, as I know it’s hard to keep up with facebook conversations sometimes.

In summary, these pollen wasp are vegetarian, like bees, and feed their young pollen instead of meat (insect tissue). The female swallows the pollen because she doesn’t have branched hairs on her body like bees do. The reason why this wasp was in the water is because she would have been collecting water to mix with dirt to make her mud nests. Ken goes on to tell us that the wasp is rarely seen, let alone photographed. According to Ken’s colleague, these wasps - “were Masarinae wasps and placed it as Paragia decipiens aliciae. This is only the second time since the species was first described in 1962, that the species has been recorded. It was first recorded in Alice Springs, NT then Bourke, NSW and now near Moree, NSW. Each record adds more information to our knowledge of this species.”

Patrick has uploaded the images to Bowerbird and Ken is supporting this database, to ensure such information is shared and maintained. This information is then shared with Australian Living Atlas (ALA) and mapped.

This group is amazing and I thank you all for your support and efforts in increase our knowledge through citizen science.

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