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Ruby-tailed Wasps and their relatives

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A photograph of the Ruby-tailed wasp (_Hedychrum nobile_).

A Ruby-tailed wasp Hedychrum nobile
Photograph by de:Benutzer:Wofl, used under GFDL.

This group contains the chrysids, commonly termed ruby-tailed wasp or jewel wasps because of their bright metallic shine. The ruby, emerald and ultramarine colours bear comparison with hummingbirds, but under a microscope their bodies are hard and densely punctuated with tiny pits. Although beautiful their stings are very sharp and give great pain, so take care when handling them.

The hard exoskeleton and powerful sting are a result of their lifestyle, which involves laying their eggs on the food stores of other Hymenoptera (hence their alternative name of cuckoo wasps). To protect themselves further some have the ability to roll into a ball when attacked.

If caught in the act, chrysids may be attacked by the host, the hosts have been seen tearing a chrysid's wing off although even this may not deter them.

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