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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Scarab Hunter Wasps on the Baccharis
Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
October 14, 2012

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp: Campsomeris tolteca


In Los Angeles, we enjoyed our first (and early) rain of the season, and the weekend following is gloriously sunny and warm, but not too hot.  It seemed like a good day to visit the Baccharis in Elyria Canyon Park, camera in hand.  Soon after arriving, we photographed this large, nervous wasp that we thought might be a Scarab Hunter in the family Scoliidae, a hunch that eventually proved correct after returning home and checking BugGuide.

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp: Campsomeris tolteca

By the time we set the camera to macro feature and waited for the lengthy recording time, we managed to get two good photos and several less than ideal images.  A few minutes later, we noticed a more orange individual.  It should be noted that these are large wasps, at least 1 1/4 inches in length and easily twice as big as a Honey Bee.  As we moved closer to the more orange individual, it was buzzed by a more yellow individual that may or may not have been the individual we had just photographed.

Male (left) and Female Scarab Hunter Wasps

The first thought that entered our mind was “could these be sexually dimorphic individuals of the same species?”  Well, that thought turned out to be accurate when we returned home and identified these Scarab Hunter Wasps as Campsomeris tolteca on BugGuide.  Alas, there is no species specific information on Campsomeris tolteca, but according to the data page, the species is reported from California to Texas along the border states.  The male images on BugGuide match our male and the female images on BugGuidematch our female.

Scarab Hunter Wasps: Attempted Mating???

Despite the lengthy record time, we managed to get two shots of both individuals together before the male flew off.  We then got several nice images of the female.

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp: Campsomeris tolteca

The best place we have discovered to read about the Scarab Hunter Wasps is on our contributor Eric Eaton’s blog, BugEric.  According to BugEric:  “Campsomeris wasps belong to the family Scoliidae, all of which are known parasitoids of scarab beetle grubs. A parasitoid is a parasite that invariably kills its host. Female scoliids, with their heavy, spiny legs, dig up a scarab grub, sting it into brief paralysis, and then lay a single egg on the beetle larva. Then the wasp leaves the scene. The grub eventually regains consciousness and control over its motor skills (such as they are), resuming its underground existence feeding on the roots of plants. Meanwhile, the wasp egg hatches and the wasp larva begins feeding as an external parasite of the beetle grub.”

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp: Campsomeris tolteca

Here is one final image of this impressive Scarab Hunter Wasp.

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp: Campsomeris tolteca

 

 

 

 

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: unknown bug
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
October 13, 2012 6:19 pm
I had this bug, and was going to use it for an insect project due at school, but know one could figure out what it was. I thought it was a bee at first, but then I saw that it had two sets of wings. the head and thorax look good but the abdomen is crazy.
Signature: cary

Pigeon Horntail

Hi cary,
Normally we don’t respond to desperate pleas for assistance from students and their parents when they need identifications immediately, but your question has some very astute deductions.  This is a Pigeon Horntail, and it is in the same insect order as bees, Hymenoptera, which includes wasps and ants as well as sawflies, wood wasps and parasitoid Hymenoptera.  This female Pigeon Horntail is a Wood Wasp and she is a female.  She uses the stingerlike ovipositor at the end of her abdomen to deposit eggs into dead and dying hardwood.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: what is this please
Location: cheshire, uk
October 12, 2012 2:56 am
my friend found this in work, it flew in through the window. could you please help identify it.
thank you
Signature: sharon

Parasitoid Wasp

Hi Sharon,
This is some species of Parasitoid Wasp, most likely an Ichneumon or possibly a Braconid.  We did not find any matching images in our initial web search.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Pine grub of some sort
Location: western NC
October 11, 2012 7:05 pm
Hello! I found these little fellows munching on a lil pine tree…. Have since collected them and sent them out in the woods, to munch on pines a bit further away from the house. (or for other animals to munch on, perhaps)
I am assuming they’re grubs, because they don’t have feet all the way down like ’pillers do…just a few at the front and a couple at the back end.
I realize bugs serve a purpose, but I’m wondering…should I have squished these? I hate killing anything, even the harmful bugs. ;)
Signature: not a bug hater

Possibly Pine Sawfly Larvae

Dear not a bug hater,
We cannot be certain because there is not enough detail in your photograph, but we believe these are Sawfly Larvae, possibly the Introduced Pine Sawfly,
Diprion similis, which you can find pictured on BugGuide.  Here is a remark from BugGuide:  “Introduced from Europe: first reported in North America in 1914, in Connecticut. Although a serious pest at times, it normally stunts rather than kills its hosts. It can be a more serious problem with young trees and in cases such as Christmas trees where appearance is important. It has natural enemies and diseases, so large outbreaks are only intermittently seen.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: The Bingo Bug
Location: Scotland
October 10, 2012 6:41 pm
I found this wee creature hanging on the wall in my workplace, a bingo club. I’ve never seen anything like it at work, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it at all! Can you help me and my colleagues find out what it is?
Many thanks,
Becky
Signature: Any way you’d like.

Ichneumon

Dear Any way you’d like,
This is an Ichneumon parasitoid wasp.
  According to the Cornell University Department of Entomology Biological Control website:  “Insect parasitoids have an immature life stage that develops on or within a single insect host, ultimately killing the host, hence the value of parasitoids as natural enemies. Adult parasitoids are free-living and may be predaceous. Parasitoids are often called parasites, but the term parasitoid is more technically correct. Most beneficial insect parasitoids are wasps or flies, although some rove beetles (see Predators) and other insects may have life stages that are parasitoids.  Most insect parasitoids only attack a particular life stage of one or several related species. The immature parasitoid develops on or within a pest, feeding on body fluids and organs, eventually leaving the host to pupate or emerging as an adult. The life cycle of the pest and parasitoid can coincide, or that of the pest may be altered by the parasitoid to accommodate its development.  The life cycle and reproductive habits of beneficial parasitoids can be complex. In some species, only one parasitoid will develop in or on each pest while, in others, hundreds of young larvae may develop within the pest host. Overwintering habits may also vary. Female parasitoids may also kill many pests by direct feeding on the pest eggs and immatures.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this?!
Location: Woy woy, NSW. 2257 AUSTRALIA
October 4, 2012 7:08 am
I’m from Australia so I don’t know if you will be able to identify this ant looking thing
Was found crawling along wood in my friends dads backyard shed.
I’ve searched and searched and can’t find a thing about it!
Are you able to help?
Signature: Katie Wright

Flower Wasp

Hi Katie,
This is a flightless female Flower Wasp.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination