Currently viewing the category: "Scoliid Wasps"
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Subject: Digger Wasp? Dangerous?
Location: Orange, Essex County, NJ
August 25, 2015 10:38 am
Here are a few pix of this multi-colored wasp-like/-looking thing in my front garden. This is a pic of the first one. I saw one or two others. It seems to really like the ripe raspberries… far more than it likes the tomato flowers.
I am lethally allergic to bee stings and wasp stings. Is this thing dangerous to me? I stop breathing, if untreated, in 12 seconds after being stung… and again about 15 minutes after injection with my first dpi-pen. This one didn’t exhibit any interest, or even fear, at my getting close enough to take the pix with my iPhone.
Thanks.
Signature: Stephanie

Digger Wasp

Digger Wasp

Dear Stephanie,
Thanks so much for taking the time to take your comment and submit a query with images, and though your image quality is quite poor, the distinctive coloration of the Blue Winged Wasp or Digger Wasp,
Scolia dubia, makes is identity quickly identifiable.  The gap in time between your comment and your query has allowed us to contemplate the matter a bit and we can’t help but to wax philosophically on the topic.

You ask:  “Is this thing dangerous to me?” so we turned to BugEric who writes:  “Males cannot sting, and females are loathe to sting unless physically molested.”  Not resisting the temptation to pick up or eat this Digger Wasp might provoke a sting from 50% of their population.  We cannot imagine you attempting either of those two possibilities.  We suspect your condition might be making you overly cautious, but again, we concur that there is always a possibility of being stung.  How great is that possibility?  We feel it is quite minimal.  According to the University of Florida Extension paper by E.E. Grissell:  “Male scoliids are frequently seen cruising close to the ground in irregular figure eight patterns (Krombein, personal communication).  A dozen or so may be skimming the soil’s surface, but not be noticed until the eye becomes accostomed to their presence.  According to Iwata (1976) a female will land and dig into the soil using first her mandibles and then her fore- and midlegs.”  Recognizing the behavior of the sexes may help you to become more aware of the difference between the physical impossibility of being stung verses a minimal chance that you might be stung.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this
Location: Hardyville Kentucky
August 19, 2015 6:43 pm
These have been gathering in my backyard in the mornings. Seems that they are after the dew on the grass. I first thought they were dirt dobbers but I saw a few just chilling on my fence this afternoon and this is the picture. Thanks
Signature: Cheryl

Digger Wasp

Digger Wasp

Dear Cheryl,
We are pleased to see your image of a living Digger Wasp,
Scolia dubia, and to read your positive attitude about it because these docile, solitary wasps are frequently targeted for Unnecessary Carnage like the dead Digger Wasp we posted a few days back.  The female Digger Wasp lays her eggs on subterranean beetle grubs including the invasive Japanese Beetle, so Digger Wasps are a gardener’s friend.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wasp
Location: Pennsylvania
August 19, 2015 1:51 pm
We have these wasp in our yard think they have a nest underground how do we know for sure and get rid of it
Signature: Sharon

Digger Wasp

Digger Wasp

Dear Sharon,
This is a solitary Digger Wasp,
Scolia dubia, and it is not an aggressive species.  They develop underground, but they are not social wasps with hundreds of members of a colony.  According to BugGuide:  “Males and females have a courtship dance, flying close to the ground in a figure-8 or S pattern. Females burrow into ground in search of grubs, especially those of Cotinis and Popillia japonica. She stings it and often burrows farther down, then constructs a cell and lays an egg on the host. Larva pupates and overwinters in a cocoon within the body of the host. One generation per year in North, more in South.”  Any insect that preys on the invasive Japanese Beetle is a friend to the gardener.  We do not provide extermination advice.

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Subject: What’s this insect?
Location: Homosassa, Florida, United States
July 5, 2015 9:52 am
I live in the United States (Florida. I found this wasp floating in my swimming pool skimmer the other day. From what I’ve been able to determine, it is a male mammoth wasp. Is this a mammoth wasp? If so, are they now living in the United States. I’ve read that this species is from Europe. Thank you.
Signature: Melanie

Scarab Hunter Wasp:  Scolia bicincta

Scarab Hunter Wasp: Scolia bicincta

Dear Melanie,
Your wasp is
Scolia bicincta, a member of the family Scoliidae whose members are called Mammoth Wasps, Flower Wasps or Scarab Hunter Wasps.  We can assure you that your wasp is native.  This particular species is generally called a Scarab Hunter or Double Banded Scoliid, and the name Mammoth Wasp is generally reserved for the European species. 

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wasp identification
Location: Vail, az
June 30, 2015 10:02 pm
Hello,
On a hot and sunny tucson summer day I found this curiosity burrowed in my grass, apparently trying to keep cool. I know it’s not a tarantula hawk from the antenna, but it was making stinging-like motion with its abdomen on the stick I used to relocate away from me and my children. Wish I had a clearer picture of the mouth, but, what say you?
Thank you for your wonderful site!
Signature: Jennifer

Scoliid Wasp

Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Jennifer,
Thanks for the compliment.  We believe we have correctly identified your Scoliid Wasp as Triscolia ardens based on images that are posted to BugGuide.  Alas, BugGuide does not provide any information on the species, and the genus information is also very limited on BugGuide except for “a single species in our area, 2 total”, however, the family page on BugGuide indicates common names “Flower Wasps, Mammoth Wasps, Scarab Hawks, Scarab Hunters” and provides this information:  “Larvae are parasitoids of ground-dwelling scarab grubs, esp. Phyllophaga; adults take nectar.  Life Cycle  Female digs down to the host grub, stings it, and lays an egg on the paralyzed grub.”  Perhaps your wasp is hunting for Scarab Beetle larvae in the lawn.  Scarab Hunters are not aggressive wasps, but because you were thoughtful enough to relocate it due to concerns for your children’s safety rather than to kill it, we are tagging your submission with the Bug Humanitarian Award

Scoliid Wasp

Scarab Hunter Wasp

 

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Subject: Black wasp with yellow head
Location: Naracoorte SA
December 26, 2014 7:41 pm
Hi Mr Bugman, if love your help please! I’ve just been bitten or stung (several times it would appear!) by this wasp.
As is to be expected, it’s incredibly painful! I’m currently lying on the couch with ice applied – what a wonderful excuse to watch the cricket!!
I’m in Naracoorte SA and Im not at all familiar with this type of wasp however my mum tells me she has seen them about.
Can you please identify the wasp so that I may call my new nemesis by name!
By the way, it took half a dozen attempts to kill, his body must be extremely hard!
Many thanks in advance
Belle Baker
Signature: ??

Mammoth Wasp, we believe

Mammoth Wasp, we believe

Dear Belle,
Though we were not able to locate any matching images on iSpot or elsewhere on the internet, we believe that this is a Mammoth Wasp in the family Scoliidae based on its resemblance to this European species of Mammoth Wasp.  It is curious that we were not able to find any South African documentation on such a distinctive looking, large wasp.

Ed. Note:  Correction South Australia, not South Africa
Thank you, that’s really interesting. Naracoorte is in South Australia, not South Africa…
Warmest Regards, Belle

Thanks for alerting us to the South Australia location.  That makes a big difference.  We believe we have correctly identified your Mammoth Wasp as a Blue Flower Wasp, Discolia verticalis, thanks to the BushCraftOz website where it states:  “Large solitary wasps. Very hairy with dark blue body and yellow patch behind head. Adults have shiny dark blue wings and stoutly built. Nectar feeders, especially eucalyptus blossum. Females have spiny legs for digging in wood or soil searching for beetle larvae and other insects to parasite. Size – up to 59 mm. There are 25 species of flower wasps that belong to Scoliidae.  Note: Flower wasps will sting if disturbed. Multiple stings can cause systemic reaction.
Warning – if symptons indicate systemic reaction seek urgent medical advice.”  There is a distribution map on the Atlas of Living Australia

Update:  January 1, 2015
Subject: Blue Flower Wasp
January 1, 2015 2:57 pm
Thanks to your site we have decided on  the Blue Flower Wasp as the identity of a swarm (probably 10+ )of wasps buzzing around a Blue Gum for the last 2 mornings. They disappear through the day. They have never been seen to land and make a very low pitched buzz as they fly close to you.  In 25 years we have never seen them before.  They are not aggressive, even when (with some difficulty – they are fast!) we netted one for a close look.  We are in Beetaloo Valley, Southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia.
Signature: John Birrell

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination