Currently viewing the category: "Wasps and Hornets"
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Subject: Large Black Mud Dauber???
Location: Athens, Ontario, Canada
August 2, 2012 7:07 am
My family and myself noticed these insects this summer flying around and crawling between the interlocking stone and the pool this summer. They keep flying around us whenever we swim and I’m worried somebody is going to get stung. I’ve also noticed them carrying locust into their nest which I figure is in our pool area. Is there any way I can remove these from this area?
Signature: Marla

Great Black Wasp Carnage

Hi Marla,
This is a Great Black Wasp,
Sphex pensylvanicus, and it is not an aggressive species.  You mentioned seeing the female with a locust.  BugGuide notes that they prey upon Katydids which earns the species an additional common name Katydid Hunter.  Since they are not aggressive, we would urge you to just let them cohabitate with you in your yard and to refrain from killing any more individuals of this magnificent wasp.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: A velvet ant & unrequited wasp love. Attempt number two.
Location: Palmyra, NJ & Philadelphia, PA
July 31, 2012 11:58 am
Please forgive me if these two photos have been previously received. I attempted to submit these late last week, however I didn’t get a confirmation E-mail so I’m not sure if my submission was successful.
The photos were taken on Sunday July 22, 2012. The first one was taken at Palmyra Cove Nature Park in Palmyra, NJ. (Had I realized that August’s bug of the month was the cow killer I would have taken a few photos of that species when I was there yesterday.) It took two trips to the park and three encounters with this particular species of velvet ant before I was able to get a photo of it.
The 1st time we came across one, she ran and hid in her burrow before I was able to get my phone out and snap a photo.
The 2nd encounter was in a grassy area & due to the grass obstructing the wasp I wasn’t able to capture a photo. I tried to coax her out into the open using a small twig, but she started to make an audible squeaking sound that told me that it was time to back off.
Finally on the third encounter, we found one in an open sandy area. Though she tried to run, she had more than enough space to run for me to have the time to get out my phone and take a picture.
After doing some research, with the aid of your site, I believe that I’ve identified her as Dasymutilla Vesta. Though, I could easily be wrong as I am no expert on insects.
After returning home from the park I noticed this pair of what I believe are black and yellow mud daubers trying to get busy on the Helenium that I planted a few years ago. Though, I’m not sure if the female was interested. The male was jabbing away furiously at the female’s abdomen but he never seemed to find his mark. Perhaps we killed the mood by barging in on them, or perhaps she had a headache.
I’ve taken a few other photos of some other insects at Palmyra Cove that I wouldn’t mind sharing with you, provided that multiple submissions from one individual wouldn’t be a nuisance. I honestly think that I’m one of the few people who go to that park mainly to see the insect life over any of the other wildlife that lives there.
Thank you for your time.
Signature: Dave

Velvet Ant

Hi Dave,
Thanks for your persistence.  We did receive your original submission, and we intended to post it, but alas, we didn’t get to it and suddenly your email got buried under the deluge of summer identification requests we receive.  Thank you again for resending.  We cannot for certain identify the Velvet Ant to the species level, but another possibility based on BugGuide images and range information might be the genus
Ephuta.   We have heard the squeaking noise you describe and for such tiny creatures, Velvet Ants are able to make a disproportionate amount of noise.  We will nonetheless tag this as a Bug Love entry even though you didn’t actually capture the mating act with your camera.  We would love to receive other submissions from you, especially of species that are not well represented on our site or images that are exceptional for other reasons.
Please in the future, only submit one specimen at a time.  We like to have each posting be a distinct species unless there is some relationship between two species that is significant.

Black and Yellow Mud Daubers

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Nebraska bug
Location: Beatrice NE
July 30, 2012 1:51 pm
Hello bugman,
I was working in Beatrice NE and spotted a wonderful looking orange and black bug and was hoping you could tell me what it is.
Signature: Regards,

Cow Killer

We cannot help but to wonder if you were fortuitously wearing heavy gloves when you discovered this Velvet Ant that is commonly called a Cow Killer, or if you donned the gloves because the aposomatic or warning coloration caused you to suspect you might need them.  Velvet Ants are flightless female wasps that are reported to deliver a very painful sting if they are carelessly handled.  We have heard several different origins to the common name Cow Killer, and both seem plausible.  One explanation is that the sting is so painful, it could kill a cow, though that is something of an exaggeration, and the second explanation we have heard is that the sting could contribute to the death of a cow when the cow reacts to the sting.  The stung cow might run into a ditch or in front of a car or otherwise injure itself to the point that it must be euthanized.  You can read more about the Cow Killer, Dasymutilla occidentalis, by referring to BugGuide.  We decided several years ago that the reputed pain of the Cow Killer’s sting warrants it a spot on our Big 5 list of the most dangerous insects and arthropods.  Since we receive so many Cow Killer reports in August, we have decided to tag your submission as the Bug of the Month for August 2012. 

Thank you for the bug identification,
A gentleman I was working with was fortuitously wearing the gloves but felt more comfortable picking  the velvet ant up because he had them on.  He was very noticeable located in a  non vegetated area next to a large industrial complex out in the agricultural fields surrounding Beatrice NE.  Thank you for your assistance in identifying this bug and I look forward to using your website in the future.
Lars Smith, Project Scientist
Sand Creek Consultants, Inc.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What in the world is this?!
Location: Castle Rock, CO
July 30, 2012 3:08 pm
Hi, We found this flying around our kids trampoline enoclosure today..very big and loud! Is that a stinger on its backside?? Would love to know what this is and is it as harmful as it looks?
Signature: The DeYoung Family

Pigeon Horntail

Dear DeYoung Family,
This Pigeon Horntail is a type of Wood Wasp, and what resembles a stinger is actually the ovipositor, the organ the female uses to lay eggs.  Pigeon Horntails do not sting people.  The ovipositor is used to deposit eggs under the bark of dead or dying trees and the larval Pigeon Horntails are wood boring insects.  While we do not blame you for killing what might have appeared to be a harmful insect, we hope that in the future you will remember that Pigeon Horntails are harmless and the larvae help to break down dead trees so that the nutrients can be reabsorbed into the soil.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wasp?
Location: Central Michigan
July 27, 2012 10:33 pm
A quick survey brought some suggestions… one of which was an ichneumon wasp. Are we right? This guy landed of the window of our business after a nasty hail storm today in Six Lakes, Michigan.
Signature: Gina

American Pelecinid

Hi Gina,
Ichneumon Wasp is a good guess, but not correct.  This American Pelecinid is the only member of its family found in North America, and like the Ichneumon, it is a parasitic Hymenopteran.  The female uses her long abdomen to deposit eggs underground and the larvae feed upon the grubs of June Beetles.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unknown wasp or ichneumon
Location: Island Park, Idaho
July 27, 2012 3:26 pm
Could you identify this flying bug for me. It was shot in Island Park, Idaho in July 2012.
Signature: Brent

Unknown Ichneumon

Hi Brent,
We agree that this is some species of Ichneumon, but after browsing through the BugGuide possibilities twice with no luck at a species or genus identity, we are unable to provide you with that information.  We are posting it as an unidentified Ichenumon and perhaps we will be able to determine the species in the future.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination