The Beewolf (Philanthus triangulum) is a spectacular looking wasp that was once regarded a great rarity in Britain. In the 1990’s, the status of the species in Britain was considered to be Vulnerable, but it recent years it has expanded its range and is now locally common (and even abundant) at several sites in southern England. The main habitat for the species are sand-dunes and dry heaths and the insect nests in burrows, up to a metre long, in the sand. The primary prey species that the Beewolf hunts to feed its larvae is the Honey-bee (Apis mellifera), although other bees such as Andrena and Lasioglossum have been targeted.
The first record of Philanthus on the Sefton coast was in 1997, with other records in Lancashire, on The Fylde, around the sane time (Hargreaves, 2021). I first saw the species on the Sefton coast in August 2019, when I found it in the dunes at both Hightown and Blundellsands. In August 2021, I again searched for it and on the 25th had several sightings at Freshfield Dune Heath. This was the locality of the first Sefton records in 1997. Two days later, on the 27th, I found several again in the dunes at Hightown. The species had been first recorded at this location in 2000.
There seem to be few, or possibly no, records of Beewolf on the Sefton coast from the initial discoveries at the end of the 20th century, until the sightings from 2019 onwards. It seems perhaps that populations of the species may have remained undetected on the coast in small numbers during the interim period, or that is has re-colonised the area in the last few years. The species is at the north-western limit of its range in Lancashire, with a location in Yorkshire being the most northerly recorded in Britain, so far.
Hargreaves, B ( 2021). The Bees, Wasps and Ants of Lancashire. Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society.