Is this what I think it is? I shot this on 8/12 in Martinsburg, WV in a disturbed open field. Thanks,
For some reason, we are unable to log onto BugGuide today, and BugGuide is our favoritie research resource when we need to identify a species that we are uncertain about. For now, we will say that this is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae, and it may be a Tarantula Hawk in the genus Pepsis. The only Pepsis species substantiated as being in the East is Pepsis menechma, and we did locate a photo, and it seems to resemble your wasp. We will verify either through Eric Eaton or upon the return of BugGuide to the World Wide Web.
Update: BugGuide has returned …
and we are nearly certain this is the Elegant Tarantula Hawk, Pepsis menechma. Though BugGuide does not indicate submissions from West Virginia, there are reports from border state Virginia. Since there are no Tarantulas in West Virginia other than pets, it is believed the Elegant Tarantula Hawk feeds Trapdoor Spiders to its progeny.
Daniel: Pepsis menechma probably does occur in southern West Virginia, but the image is of a different spider wasp: Entypus unifasciatus. They do get quite large. Excellent image of a female!
I am no expert, but I think I recognize a submission today that you tentatively identified as a tarantula hawk. I think it’s a close relative of the tarantula hawk, but is actually an Entypus Unifasciatus. It’s not quite as vicious or as large. 😉