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

Subject: black bug with blue wings
Location: Australia
March 18, 2014 6:59 pm
Hi,
I’ve found this wasp-like bug in my back yard. Through searching Google, the great black wasp seems to resemble the most, but I can’t find information of it living in Melbourne, Australia.
Signature: Ellie B

Blue Flower Wasp

Blue Flower Wasp

Dear Ellie B,
This impressive wasp is a Blue Flower Wasp,
Discolia soror, and as part of a 2010 posting, we wrote:  “the common name is listed as either the Blue Flower Wasp, Black Flower Wasp or Hairy Flower Wasp depending upon the author.  The adult feeds upon nectar, and the female lays eggs on Scarab Beetle Grubs which are parasitized by the larval wasps” but without citations.  This morning we will hunt for some citations.  Csiro calls this a Black Flower Wasp, and provides this information:  “The adult females are large and powerful wasps and are designed to dig.  They burrow into the soil to locate scarab grubs (from beetles such as the Christmas beetle), which they sting and lay an egg on.”  Csiro also indicates:  “Female black flower wasps can sting but rarely do, as they are not aggressive. It is not necessary to control them.”   The Brisbane Insect website calls this a Blue Hairy Flower Wasp and states:  “We sometime see them flying and walking among shrubs searching for prey. They lay eggs on scarab beetle grubs in the soil.”  Project Noah uses the name Blue Flower Wasp and The Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales uses the name Blue-Winged Scolia.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: unknown Hymenopterid
Location: Sherman Oaks, California 91423
March 15, 2014 9:18 pm
Hi. About a dozen of these largish Hymenopterids (4 wings) are flying during the day when the sun is shining on our outdoor patio, circling around; in particular they seem to like some ornamental hollies, but I’ve never seen them land for longer than a second or two. The bugs aren’t aggressive, and if they bump into you they don’t attack. My next door neighbor says that they are on their lawn, so perhaps they are a “not quite solitary” bee group. I don’t recall ever seeing this kind of bug around here before.
I captured one and put it in the freezer which killed it. I’ve attached three photos. The waist is somewhat constricted. Head to tip of abdomen 22mm. At least 11 antennal segments, front wings 3 closed cells. Abdomen 6 or so segments.
Signature: Steve

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Steve,
We believe this is a male Scarab Hunter Wasp in the family Scoliidae, possibly
Campsomeris tolteca, which is pictured on BugGuide.  This is a highly sexually dimorphic species, with the appearance of the female being so different from that of the male that she appears to be a different species.  Alas, BugGuide does not have any species specific information, but the genus page on BugGuide does provide this information:  “Eric Eaton has pointed out in comments under various photos of Scoliids that there is considerable taxonomic confusion in this family, so that has to be a caveat in any photo identified as to genus here.  According to Nick Fensler: The females Campsomeris as well as other members of the subfamily Campsomerinae are predators on white grubs (Scarabaeidae), using these larvae as food for their young. Unlike sphecids, eumenines, and pompilids these wasps do not appear to have any type of prey transportation and dig to the ground-dwelling beetle larvae, sting it to paralyze it, and then lay an egg. They may dig around the grub to form a small cell. Since they use this nesting strategy they are often seen flying low to the ground (searching) in a figure eight pattern (but the flight pattern gets more erratic when they “smell” something). The adults use nectar as a food source and are common on flowers.”  Male wasps cannot sting as the stinger in the female is a modified ovipositor.  Since they are interested in your neighbor’s lawn, we suspect there is a significant population of Scarab Beetle grubs beneath the surface.  Females are searching for prey that act as food for her offspring, while males may be patrolling for mates.

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

You may also visit Eric Eaton’s blog, Bug Eric, for more photos on male Scarab Hunter Wasps.

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

Male Scarab Hunter Wasp

Hi Daniel. Thanks so much for identifying the scarab hunter wasp. Today I finally saw the even larger female (photos attached). A few years ago 3 large trees were removed from the neighbor’s property in the same area where these wasps are flying. Could be that the males are emerging from the ground, and maybe the large number is due to the significant availability of dead roots (from the removed trees) that the beetle larvae feed on. Could be the males like to hang out in sunny areas near a shrub (the holly in my yard in place of the Baccharis as reported on the web) waiting for the females.
Again, thanks! Steve Hartman

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Steve,
WE are very excited to receive your new photos of the female Scarab Hunter Wasp, but the resolution on the original images you sent was much higher.

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Flying insect
Location: Newcastle, NSW. Australia.
December 31, 2013 8:07 pm
Can you please help me identify this flying insect that has appeared in our garden in the past month (December 2013). There are quite a few of them, and they appear to like burrowing in the soil and lawn. They are not aggressive, but large enough to give you a fright!!
Signature: The bugman

Blue Flower Wasp

Blue Flower Wasp

Happy New Year.  This is our first posting of 2014.  This is a Blue Flower Wasp, Scolia soror, and we have also seen alternative common names including Black Flower Wasp, Hairy Blue Flower Wasp or Hairy Flower Wasp, depending upon the source.  According to the Victoria Museum fact sheet:  “These wasps will most likely be seen flying just above ground level and in particular flying near or around compost heaps, wood heaps or dead stumps of trees.”  The site goes on to explain:  “Adult female flower wasps are designed to dig. They are large and powerful wasps. The female wasps are often seen visiting compost heaps or wood piles or flying around the dead stump of a tree. They are searching for scarab beetle grubs (such as the Christmas beetle group) in the ground and are quite capable of digging into compost heaps or saw-dust of a tree stump to find beetle grubs.  …. However, many wasps have developed the technique of paralysing their prey and laying an egg inside the host. The hatched larva then feed inside the living host. Flower wasps are one such group of wasps.  Having located a beetle grub, the female stings and lays an egg inside it. The sting from the wasp does not kill the beetle grub but only paralyses it. There is a good reason why the female wasp does not kill the beetle grub. If the sting were to kill the beetle grub, then its tissue would immediately start to rot and decompose. When the wasp egg hatches inside the paralysed beetle grub it is surrounded by living tissue – the food that it needs to eat. The developing wasp larva knows which parts of the beetle grub to eat first to prolong the grub’s life for as long as possible; thus maximizing the chances of complete development of the wasp larva.”  We have read that female Blue Flower Wasps are capable of stinging humans, but they rarely do.  Carelessly handling a Blue Flower Wasp may result in a sting, but since they do not defend their young, there is little chance of being stung while observing a female in search of food for her offspring.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What type of bee is this?
Location: Payson, AZ
September 23, 2013 9:56 pm
I found a beautiful orange and black bee on our property, in Arizona, that has black and blue iridescent wings. I took a photo of it that I am attaching.
Would Love to find out what this beautiful creature is! :O)
Thanks for your help!
Signature: Vicki

Scarab Hunter

Scarab Hunter

Hi Vicki,
This Scoliid Wasp is positively gorgeous.  According to BugGuide:  Wasps in the family Scoliidae are commonly called:  “Flower Wasps, Mammoth Wasps, Scarab Hawks,  [or] Scarab Hunters” and the “female digs down to the host grub, stings it, and lays an egg on the paralyzed grub” and those eggs develop into “Larvae [that] are parasitoids of ground-dwelling scarab grubs.”  Thanks to BugGuide, we have identified you Scarab Hunter as 
Triscolia ardens.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Colorful Wasps of Summer
Location: Central Maryland, USA
August 27, 2013 10:04 am
Bugman, the wasps and bees really like this particular hemlock weed with many colorful varieties visiting it today. Looks like a Metallic Sweat Bee, a Digger Wasp, and one other black/white wasp. Would the black wasp with white bands possibly be a type of Mason Wasp?
Signature: Roger S.

Metallic Sweat Bee

Metallic Sweat Bee

Hi Roger,
Generally we don’t like making postings with diverse insects, but all your pollinators are in the order Hymenoptera, and they are all visiting the same blossoms for the same reason, to feed on nectar, so we are making an exception.  We agree with your identifications of the Metallic Sweat Bee which looks very much like this image on BugGuide, and the Digger Wasp,
Scolia dubia.

Digger Wasp

Digger Wasp

The third wasp is most likely a Potter Wasp and we believe it is in the genus Eumenes, which you can find pictured on BugGuide, however, we were not able to confirm a species identification.

Potter Wasp

Potter Wasp

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What wasp is this?
Location: Upper Marlboro,MD
August 23, 2013 6:01 am
Approximately 3/4”flying in swarms several inches above turf.No obvious ground holes.
Signature: JFR

Digger Wasp

Digger Wasp

Hi JFR,
We are so sad, and we are hoping that by posting your images and tagging them as Unnecessary Carnage, we will educate both you and our public about these beautiful and beneficial Digger Wasps or Blue-Winged Wasps,
Scolia dubia.  They are solitary wasps and they are not an aggressive species, despite the stinging capabilities of the females.  Males do not sting.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae are parasites of green June beetles and Japanese beetles” and “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 the Green June Beetle, Cotinis, and the Japanese Beetle 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.”  Japanese Beetles are an invasive exotic species that can decimate an ornamental garden if there are large numbers.  Any insect that helps to control Japanese Beetle populations naturally is beneficial.  We hope you will reconsider your original impulse to eradicate these majestic Digger Wasps and allow nature to keep any population balance of potential pest insects in check.

Digger Wasps

Digger Wasps

CORRECTION:  NOT Unnecessary Carnage
Hi Daniel..
I actually found these two deceased and in no way contributed to their demise.
After I submitted my request to you I searched the web and was able to I’d them and it makes sense that they are there given the presence of Japanese Beetles in the area.

Thanks so much for the clarification.  We are happy that no carnage was involved  These appear to be males, and males do not live as long as females.  Male Digger Wasps likely die shortly after mating while females need to live longer to hunt and lay eggs.

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination