georgia's picture

Mystery Wasp ambushes butterfly and cuts wings off in flight!?.

Observed: 18th June 2009 By: georgiageorgia’s reputation in Invertebrates

Twice last summer i observed a Cabbage White butterfly being attacked in mid air by a small wasp. It flew round briefly with the wasp attached as the wasp chopped its wings off and then flew away with the body! This occurred in my back garden in 2 different places. Is this normal behaviour for a common wasp or a specialist? it was quite a brutal event to watch?

  • Specialist bee or wasp?
    Confidence: It might be this.
  • mystery wasp
    Confidence: It might be this.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


Martin Harvey's picture

interesting observation

I've seen 'normal' common wasps attack moths round a moth trap and cut the wings off, but your description sounds like a different species of wasp. (It won't be a bee, bees feed on nectar and pollen and are not predatory.) Never seen this happen to a butterfly!

Entomologist and biological recorder

georgia's picture

I will keep an eye out.

I will keep an eye out to see if it happens again this year. I have made a few observations on this site and some of them have proved to show me as the amateur I am! BUT, I am very interested in nature and love the opportunity to take part in this mass observation/ information collection exercise. Thanks for asserting its a wasp. It happened just outside my kitchen door and at a garden gate, i will put a net in those locations and see if i can briefly catch the wasp while it is attacking the butterfly and photograph it. There was a loud buzzing sound while it was happening. I thought it was unusual that it happened mid air, and i would have taken it as a one off had i not seen it happen twice..

DavidHowdon's picture

Wasp and butterfly

I have seen this happen to a butterfly before (an example on iSpot is at so a 'normal' wasp may be possible.

David Howdon