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Cuckoo wasps of Finland: fauna, population trends and conservation

Cuckoo wasps (Hymenoptera: Chrysididae) are colourful, metallic-like aculeate wasps, which parasitize other insects, such as solitary wasps of the families Vespidae and Crabronidae. There are more than 3000 species of cuckoo wasps in the world of which about 50 have been found from Finland. Despite their attractive appearance, cuckoo wasps are still rather poorly known and there is much ambiguity considering their taxonomy, distribution and biology.

Majority of cuckoo wasps live in forested or agricultural biotopes, especially in warm forest edges with a lot of dead wood for their hosts to nest. Log houses and other wooden constructions such as wood poles are also typical habitats for them. Several species are considered threatened due to habitat loss, for example, almost half of the assessed cuckoo wasps were included in the 2010 Red List of Finnish Species.

In 2011, Chrysis equestris was suddenly rediscovered from southeastern Finland after being missing from the country for 50 years. The ecology of the species is poorly known, but as most other cuckoo wasps it requires warm habitats with lots of dead wood. © Ika Österblad.

Chrysis graelsii was formerly distributed throughout southern Finland. Nowadays the species has strongly declined and it is classified as endangered. The species parasitizes nests of solitary wasps in dead trees or in the walls of old log houses. © Ika Österblad.

The main aim of this project is to increase knowledge on Finnish cuckoo wasps both in the form of a doctoral dissertation and as a popular identification book. More specifically, we aim to prepare distribution maps and assess population trends of Finnish cuckoo wasps, investigate their taxonomy, and study their biology and conservation. We will also define genetic barcodes for all Finnish species.

Further information

Pekka Vilkamaa, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 19128834, pekka.vilkamaa(at)helsinki.fi

Juho Paukkunen, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 19128644, juho.paukkunen(at)helsinki.fi

Published 2013-06-20 at 12:53, updated 2013-06-20 at 12:53