• host-searching activity;
  • kleptoparasite;
  • Myrmilla;
  • optimal foraging theory;
  • parasitoid;
  • Sphecodes


Cuckoo bees and velvet ants use different resources of their shared host bees, the former laying eggs on the host pollen stores and the latter on immature stages. We studied the activity patterns of the cuckoo bee Sphecodes monilicornis and the velvet ant Myrmilla capitata at two nesting sites of their host, the social digger bee Lasioglossum malachurum, over a 3 year period. Due to the difference in host exploitation, we expected different temporal patterns of the two natural enemies as well as a positive spatial association with host nest density for both species. At a daily level, S. monilicornis was more abundant between 10.00 and 15.00 h, while M. capitata was most active in the early morning and late afternoon; both species activities were independent from host provisioning activity. The activity of cuckoo bees was in general positively correlated with the density of open host nests (but not with the total number of nests), while that of velvet ants was rarely correlated with this factor. Sphecodes monilicornis was seen both attacking the guard bees and directly entering into the host nests or digging close to nest entrances, while M. capitata only gained access to host nests through digging. We conclude that the temporal and spatial segregation between the two species may be, at least partially, explained both by the different resources exploited and by the different dynamics of host interactions.