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

Subject: Bee on Steroids?
Location: Los Angeles, CA
June 27, 2014 3:10 pm
I saw this bee-hemouth on a flower outside my home here in the Los Angeles area.
It was around 1.5 inches long.
Looks like a bee, but isn’t a bee. Any ideas?
Signature: Just Me

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Just Me,
Several years ago we encountered this magnificent species of Scarab Hunter Wasp in Elyria Canyon Park in Northeast Los Angeles and we identified it as a female
Campsomeris tolteca.  The species exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism.  Both males and females visit flowers, but only the female hunts for Scarab Beetle Grubs to feed her brood.  BugGuide states:  “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.”.  You may also compare your images to these images on BugGuide.

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

Female Scarab Hunter Wasp

Wow very cool! I think it looks more like the plumipes. Thanks so much!

According to BugGuide, Campsomeris plumipes is not found west of Colorado.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wasp or hornet or ?
Location: Chiang Mai (northern Thailand).
May 4, 2014 12:26 am
Hi, this big flying insect comes into my house the last 2 days. It is not aggressive and about 5 cm long.
I made the pictures through a glass bowl.
Signature: Ricci

Mammoth Wasp:  Megascolia azurea

Mammoth Wasp: Megascolia azurea

Dear Ricci,
This is a magnificent wasp, and we were immediately struck by its resemblance to the European Mammoth Wasp, which is represented in our archives and identified as either
Megascolia maculata or Scolia flavifrons.  We may need to go back through our archives and make some corrections.  So, with that as a point of departure, we believe we have identified your individual as Megascolia azurea  on the HK Wildlife Forum and we found an example identified as a Digger Wasp from Hong Kong in our own archives.  This image from TheBugRoom indicates that only the female of the species has the red head, an example of sexual dimorphism.

Megascolia azurea

Female Megascolia azurea

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