Subject: wasp which brings confusion
Location: indianapolis indiana
August 5, 2012 9:48 am
this is the first summer I have seen these. started noticing them pollinating my mint. have done internet research but cannot decide what they are. have asked around 2 friends for their opinion and no 1 can decide either.
Signature: harley page
We believe this is a Grass Carrying Wasp, Isodontia apicalis, and it is not considered an aggressive species. The individual in your photograph appears to be dead, perhaps the result of Unnecessary Carnage. We based our identification on this BugGuide image which has a comment from Eric Eaton with this description: “The silver face and pale pubescence on the thorax is pretty distinctive. … Differences are so subtle among the sphecids in general that it just takes years of practice to differentiate.” Sadly, your photo does not show the face. We will try to contact Eric Eaton to see if we can get a confirmation or a correction to that identification. BugGuide contains some fascinating information on the genus, including: “Females make nests in a tree, hollow stem or other cavity, divide into sections and close with grass. They provision with Orthoptera (Tettigoniidae, Gryllidae)” and “These wasps commonly make their nest in the narrow track found above outer windows.”
Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton
Pretty certain that is actually a Great Black Wasp, Sphex pensylvanicus, one that hunts katydids and digs an underground burrow. It does look like a female, so it should have been very large (inch-and-a-half or so).