Currently viewing the category: "Wasps and Hornets"
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Subject: wasp in redwood
Location: Sonoma County, CA
September 23, 2012 10:25 pm
Howdy Bugman,
I run a small bandsaw mill unprofessionally and am current building a small house with it. I’m working on siding now out of a redwood that I dropped a year and a half ago and I kept running into these half pupated whatsits with creepy long legs. I thought they were Old House Borers but their legs looked too long for a beetles and also adding to the trouble was I kept beheading them with the saw which I’m sure you understand makes identification difficult. Finally uncovered this rather large metallic looking wasp that I miraculously missed with the saw. I dug it out and it sluggishly wandered around and I took a not so clear picture. I thought about killing it but if I spend a few minutes with an insect or arachnid even if they give me the heeby jeebies I feel bad and put them somewhere out of harms way. In this case I stuck it over on the scary old circular mill with removeable teeth. A little while later I saw it flying around and busily landing on things. Sin ce fall is fast approaching is this guy (gal?) going to make it or was it planning on overwintering in my siding?
Signature: best to all, Erik

Wood Wasp

Hi Erik,
This is some species of Wood Wasp or Horntail in the family Siricidae, and since you found it in redwood and redwood is a conifer, it is most likely in the subfamily Siricinae.  There are only two genera listed on BugGuide, and we are having a problem identifying this to the species level.  We will try sending the image to Eric Eaton to see if he can provide anything more specific.  Your letter was filled with helpful information on the habits of Wood Wasps and Horntails.
  We also located this very informative posting from the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis.

Eric Eaton Responds with some surprising news
This really is a great story.  Ok, from what I can gather, the only species of horntail known to infest redwoods in California is Sirex areolatus, and I reach that conclusion with the help of a very recent online reference:
Still, the ovipositor in this female specimen is very long.  I’d like to forward this e-mail to two of the authors of the above paper, whom I know from prior correspondence.  There is always the possibility I’m wrong, or that this is a new species, or an introduced species from elsewhere….
Lastly, with Erik’s permission, I’d like to use his image and story in a blog post about this species.  I’d need his last name to assign proper credit, of course.

Thank you so much for the identification I am fascinated by just about everything and enjoy learning more about my neck of the woods. Not actually my neck of the woods but I work there and that’s close enough. Just to be clear, I only thought about killing it because I was afraid it would generate future generations of wasps in my lumber. However upon reading that UC Davis article I understand they don’t infest or re-infest finished structures. This will learn me to get my butt in gear when I cut trees! Quite a spectacular wasp I’m glad I can say I didn’t kill it.
Thanks again,
Right, as for Eric’s request yes by all means. If it’s any more help, the larvae were found only in the sapwood of the redwood while the pupating ones and the adult were just in the surface of heartwood.
Best to all,
Erik Dolgushkin

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Subject: Found these guys nesting in our window…
Location: Fort Mill, SC
September 22, 2012 12:05 pm
Hello! I am writing because I am really hoping you can help me figure out what on Earth these guys are. Last week I was measuring for a fire ladder and accidentally dropped the screen out of the window. I was showered with insect parts and nesting material. On top of the screen there was a straight line of these guys, and I am at a loss as to what they are. Each cocoon was about an inch long. Hoping you can shed some light on the situation!
Signature: Thank you so much, Ashli Welsh

Grass Carrying Wasp Nest

Hi Ashli,
You have discovered the nest of a Grass Carrying Wasp in the genus
Isodontia.  According to BugGuide:  “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.”  The wings in your photos appear to be those of Tree Crickets which have been eaten by the wasp larva.

Grass Carrying Wasp Nest


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Potter wasp and Gulf Fritillaries on Passion Flower vine
Location: Tucson, AZ
September 22, 2012 12:56 am
Good evening!
I thought you might enjoy these photos of some of the many visitors to my passion flower vines. In the first photo you’ll see a pretty little potter wasp constructing her nurseries. Any idea what species she is?
The second photo I like to call ”synchronized chrysalis exiting competition”. I’m fairly certain my 4 vines are responsible for about 90% of the population of Gulf Fritillaries in Tucson. I’ve had so many caterpillars my poor vines are barely clinging to life. Do you think the potter could be using the smaller caterpillars to feed her young? It would be great to get some natural crowd control.
I’ve also seen several tiny lacewing larvae on the vines, carrying around bunches of junk (and ant bodies) on their backs for camouflage- I was able to identify them using your site. They’re so cool, but my camera’s not sophisticate enough to get a good shot.
Love your site!
Signature: Emily

Potter Wasp constructs Pot

Hi Emily,
This is a beautiful Potter Wasp and your photo is exquisite.  One of the closest color matches we could find on BugGuide is
Dolichodynerus tanynotus, but alas, there is no species information.  There is a single submission from San Diego.  Further research on bugGuide makes us inclined to speculate that this is actually Eumenes bollii, which appears darker than your individual, however, the markings appear very similar, especially this image from San Diego.  The BugGuide genus page for Eumenes states:  “Females make a pot of clay as a nest, provision with moth and beetle larvae. Wasp places eggs on wall of cell, then provisions” though we would not discount the possibility that your individual is provisioning her nest with Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars, especially since the subfamily page on BugGuide indicates:  “Most provision with caterpillars.”  Thank you for proposing such an interesting hypothesis.  Though there is no actual documentation, we are taking creative license and tagging this as a Food Chain possibility.

Simultaneous emergence of Gulf Fritillaries

Thanks so much for replying to my letter. I think you nailed it with the Eumenes bollii identification, the photos on BugGuide look just like her. I’ve always wondered what sort of organs/tissues run through that tiny wasp waist from the body that keep the abdomen alive…
Thanks again,

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Location:  Edon, Ohio
September 17, 2012
Sorry to bother you through your personal email.  For some reason I can not get my pictures to send through the web site.
I have begun the task of trying to identify the caterpillars I have pictures of.  (I am having trouble finding a good resource for this.  I keep going through page after page and can not find what I have…. but anyway…)  I have one from N.W. Ohio, I believe it is a sphynx moth.  Possibly the great oak.  The picture was taken at the end of September of 2007.  My question is more about the little “sacks” that appear to be attatched all over it.  I was not sure if they were egg sacks or parasites.  Have you ever seen anything like this before?
Janet Fox
Picture from Edon, Ohio

Tobacco Sphinx parasitized by Chalcids

Hi Janet,
This is a Tobacco Sphinx,
Manduca sexta, one of the species of Hornworms that are frequently found feeding on the leaves of tomato plants.  It has been parazitized by a Braconid Wasp.  The larval wasps feed on the internal organs and then emerge to pupate.  Alas, this Tobacco Sphinx did not live to maturity.  See BugGuide for confirmation.

Wow!  I didn’t think we would have one of those in Ohio… since there are no tobacco plants up there.  My book didn’t even show a tobacco sphynx.  I know I had just never seen one with those sacks hanging on one before.  Thanks for clearing that up.
You guys do a wonderful job and are very helpful.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: bugs
Location: Rheinau, Switzerland.
September 18, 2012 11:47 am
This 4cm wasp-like insect was found on a gravestone making a nest. Could you tell me what it is please?
Signature: JPB

Potter Wasp

Dear JPB,
Because of the shape of the wasp’s body as well as the nest, our best guess is that this is a Potter Wasp or Mason Wasp in the subfamily Eumeninae.  Switzerland does not have many insect identification websites, but you can compare your individual to the North American members of the genus Eumenes represented on BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bugs
Location: Poole England
September 18, 2012 11:41 am
This was found in back garden yesterday – what is it please?
Signature: JPB


Dear JPB,
This is an Ichneumon Wasp, but our initial search did not turn up any matching images online.  Ichneumons are a large family of wasps that are parasitic on other arthropods, and each species of Ichneumon is generally very specific about its prey.  Ichneumons can be very difficult to identify to the species level.  Though this is not your species, you might enjoy reading this account on the Sutton Park Natural History website.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination