Currently viewing the category: "Wasps and Hornets"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: European Hornet eating Dragonfly
Location: Westfield, NJ, USA
July 16, 2012 10:58 am
My own internet research led me from my initial suspicion of ”Cicada Killer” to a more accurate labeling of ”European Hornet.” I pulled into my driveway in Westfield, NJ, got out of the car, and heard a strange buzzing/flapping noise. The dragonfly was on its back, struggling, with the hornet clinging to its thorax. By the time I got batteries in the camera, the battle was over, and the hornet was butchering its catch, presumably taking pieces back to the hive.
I have more photos, and even videos of the carnage! If you’re interested, check out
This was an amazing event. I had to leave before the hornet was done with its work, and when I returned home an hour later, all that remained was all four wings of the dragonfly, attached to a tiny piece of thorax exoskeleton! I saved them in a tupperware.
Signature: Jordan

European Hornet kills Dragonfly

Hi Jordan,
This is not the first time we have received documentation of a European Hornet preying upon a Dragonfly.  Since the European Hornet is an introduced species and since we doubt there are many natural predators of Dragonflies in the insect world, the cumulative effects of such predation might have negative ramifications on our local Dragonfly populations.  Thanks for your excellent description of the events.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Stinging Insect
Location: Black River Falls, WI
July 13, 2012 2:39 pm
What is this? I want to say yellow jacket, but I haven’t seen a nest or anything that would help identify it. I appologize for it being dead and slightly squashed. It did sting my daughter after my son got stung by a different one. We were outside for not even 5 minutes, just kicking a ball around when my son suddenly screamed get it off of me. I did try to find it on your site, but I was having issues finding an exact pattern match.
Signature: Dani

Widow Yellowjacket

Hi Dani,
We agree that this is a Yellowjacket, but we cannot be certain of the species.  The facial markings look similar to the Common Aerial Yellowjacket,
Dolichovespula arenaria, that is pictured on BugGuide, but we would rather have someone with more experience with Yellowjackets provide a definitive species identification.  We would also note that perhaps the most similar looking species is the Widow Yellowjacket, Vespula vidua, also represented on Bugguide.  Like other social wasps, Yellowjackets will defend a nest.  If both of your children were stung, there is a good chance that there is a nest nearby.  The nest of the Common Aerial Yellowjacket is usually above ground, often in trees, while the nest of the Widow Yellowjacket is often subterranean.

Widow Yellowjacket

was alot easier to find one that matched exact with the names.
It looks exactly like these ones.  If I can find the nest, I’ll be sure to take some good photos for you.  It doesn’t look like you have many.
are they generally aggressive?  we really weren’t making a whole lot of noise.

We are happy to hear that in your opinion, the Yellowjackets are Widow Yellowjackets, a name BugGuide indicates is a result of the greater black areas in this species:  .  It is our experience that Yellowjackets are often curious about people, especially during picnics when there are trash cans nearby with fatty or sweet foods.  We have not had personal contact near a nest, but it is our understanding that they can be very aggressive if they feel the nest is being threatened.  I think the answer will be very clear to you when you discover where the nest is.  You should avoid the area.  The colony will die out with the frost and cold weather, and only new queens will survive to create a new colony elsewhere.  Some species of Yellowjackets in warmer climates have a nest that will last for several years instead of being an annual community.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Insect identification
Location: Czech republic, near river Sazava
July 11, 2012 2:43 pm
Dear Bugman,
my friend find this bug in Czech republic near river Sazava. There was a lot of them. The attached picture is from:
I want to ask you to identify the type of insect.
Many thanks,
Signature: M.Nerad

Wood Wasp

Hi Milos,
This is a Wood Wasp, a group of insects with larvae the bore in wood.  We believe we have correctly identified it as
Sirex juvencus on the Encyclopedia of Life websiteThere is a nice photo that shows the sexual dimorphism since the male and female look very different from one another.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Posing caterpillars
Location: Åland (western Finland)
July 12, 2012 3:21 pm
Came across these feeding caterpillars today. It is a new species to me and that rather odd pose is also a first as far as I am concerned. Each caterpillar is slightly less than an inch long. Any idea what they are?
Signature: Stefan

Sawfly Larvae: Croesus septentrionalis

Hi Stefan,
Though they resemble caterpillars, these are actually the larvae of a Sawfly.  Sawflies are related to Bees and Wasps, but they do not sting.  Many have larvae that look like Caterpillars.  We tried a websearch for species found in Finland and quickly found this photo on PHotographers Direct that was identified as
Croesus septentrionalis.  Searching that name, we found a wonderful blog entry on The Big Buzz.  The blogger thought she had this particular Sawfly, but the species she found in UK was eventually identified as the Berberis Sawfly.  She did provide this information:  “I opened my trusty Collins Complete British Insects and started looking. Aha – easy. There was a picture a gang of larvae identical to mine: Croesus septentrionalis. So, that was that.  Except of course that it wasn’t. When I went to bed that night thre was something niggling at the back of my mind. According to the Collins, Croesus septentrionalis, if disturbed, ‘raise their rear ends in unison’. Our larvae didn’t do this.”  Your photo shows these Sawfly Larvae raising their rear ends in unison, a behavior believe to discourage predators.   

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: found on wood pile
Location: Middle of North Dakota
July 8, 2012 9:03 pm
Local camper brought this into my office about two weeks ago. It is not something we see around here. Just curious what this is. It is vibrant purple with a yellow head. It was returned to the area it was found. It was not aggressive,very sluggish.
Thanks for any help
Signature: Mal

Stump Stabber: Megarhyssa atrata

I found a photo of one =) Giant Ichneumon – Megarhyssa atrata

Dear Mal,
This iconic parasitic wasp is commonly called a Stump Stabber or Giant Ichneumon,
Megarhyssa atrata.  A female, like the one in your photo, uses her Ovipositor to lay eggs in dead and diseased wood that is being eaten by the larvae of the Pigeon Horntail.  Your Stump Stabber appears to be exhausted. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What’s that bug?
Location: Illinois
July 5, 2012 10:15 pm
It sits next a wooden cesspool cover on my patio all day, for the past 2 weeks. It looks like it is protecting something, maybe its eggs under the wooden cover? It never bites but will approach and hover around any intruder in its space.
Signature: David

Cicada Killer

Hi David,
This is a beautiful photo of a beautiful wasp known as the Cicada Killer.  A female Cicada Killer is a solitary Sand Wasp that digs a burrow that she provisions with paralyzed Cicadas for her developing larvae to feed upon.  Thank you for bringing up that they are docile since so many are needlessly killed because their large size is intimidating to many folks.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination