Let’s go cuckoo
Not too long ago, we thought that cuckoos were birds. While this is true, it’s not the whole story. We have found that there are also cuckoo bees (above left) and cuckoo wasps (above right) making the bushland their home.
Cuckoo bees and wasps have the same habits as cuckoos of the bird variety in that they lay their eggs in the nests of another species. The cuckoo bees lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species and the cuckoo wasp lays its eggs in the nests of other wasp species.
The host bees and wasps will be solitary insects that make a mud or tunnel nest in which their eggs and young will develop. The hosts will provision their nests with food, like pollen balls (bees) or paralysed spiders (wasps), for their own baby.
The cuckoo bee or wasp will keep watch and, while the host is out foraging, will sneak into the nest and lay its own egg on the food supplies. The host won’t notice the cuckoo’s egg on the food but will lay its own egg and seal up the nest chamber.
The cuckoo bee or wasp egg hatches before the host’s egg. The cuckoo young will then eat all of the food (and possibly the host’s baby) before the host’s baby has a chance.
When fully developed, the cuckoo bee or wasp will emerge from the host’s nest and fly off to repeat the cycle.
December and January are when we have seen the adults flying around.