Currently viewing the category: "Thread Waisted Wasps"
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Subject: Insect ID
Location: South Florida-West Palm Beach
March 16, 2014 3:17 pm
Could you please ID this blue flying insect.
Signature: DJS

Great Black Wasp

Blue Mud Dauber

Dear DJS,
This looks like a Great Black Wasp,
Sphex pensylvanicus, to us.  We are going to check with Eric Eaton who profiled the Great Black Wasp on his Bug Eric blog to see if he can verify or correct its identity.  According to Eric:  “Few North American wasps are as conspicuous as the Great Black Wasp, Sphex pensylvanicus. This all-black insect with violet reflections on its wings is so large as to sometimes be mistaken for a tarantula hawk wasp. Males average 22 millimeters in body length, while females are about 28 millimeters (up to 35 mm) and more robust.”

Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton
Daniel:
That is either a Blue Mud Dauber, Chalybion californicum, or a Steel Blue Cricket Killer, Chlorion aerarium.  Hard to tell the two apart from only a couple images from the same angle.  I lean toward Blue Mud Dauber, though.
Eric

Great Black Wasp

Blue Mud Dauber

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What kind of nest is this
Location: Hudson, NH
February 15, 2014 12:33 pm
I found these today in the slots in my window were my screen would go. I only have half screens so the top never has anything in it.
Signature: Angela

Nest of a Grass Carrying Wasp

Nest of a Grass Carrying Wasp

Dear Angela,
We believe this is 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.”  We cannot tell if the nest in your photo has been provisioned with Crickets.  The female Grass Carrying Wasp paralyzes the cricket which remains immobile, but alive, as the wasp larva feeds upon it.

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Subject: What is this?
Location: Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia
January 11, 2014 9:08 pm
Hi
We saw this large black flying insect all over the beaches in the Whitsunday Islands. They were about 1.5 inches long, maybe a centimetre wide. They burrow into holes in the sand. They didn’t seem very interested in people, mostly ignoring us.
What on earth is it??
Thanks
Signature: Jenny

Thread-Waisted Wasp

Thread-Waisted Wasp

Hi Jenny,
We don’t believe we will be able to provide you with a species identification based on your photos, but we can give you a more general family and subfamily identification.  This is most likely a Thread-Waisted Wasp in the family Sphecidae, and we are basing this on the anatomy of the wasp in your images, specifically the narrow “wasp waist” as well as the burrowing behavior.  Furthermore, we believe it is in the subfamily Sphecinae.  The Brisbane Insect website describes the subfamily:  “Wasps in subfamily Sphecinae are usually black in colour, from medium to large size. They have the abdomen link with thorax with very slender cylindrical stalk-like petiole, i.e. the thread-waist. They predatory on Orthoptera, including grasshoppers and katydids. Females build nest for their young by digging long tunnel in sandy ground. “

Sphecid Wasp

Sphecid Wasp digging

Your photos are most interesting to us on a behavioral level of the subfamily rather than as images of a specific species.

Thread-Waisted Wasp

Thread-Waisted Wasp

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Which Wasp?
Location: Long Island, NY
August 26, 2013 3:51 pm
I could not identify this one here or at BugGuide.
A little more help, please?
Signature: Carl

Blue Mud Wasp

Blue Mud Wasp

Hi Carl,
We believe this is a Blue Mud Wasp, Chalybion californicum, but we are not certain.  We will try to get a second opinion.  See BugGuide for photos of the Blue Mud Wasp.  The iridescence of the wings is only visible in your second photo.

Blue Mud Wasp

Blue Mud Wasp

Eric Eaton provides an identification:  Male Great Black Wasp
I’d say a male Great Black Wasp, Sphex pensylvanicus.
Eric

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Subject: Ground insect… Bee?
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
August 17, 2013 7:01 pm
Here’s a strange ground insect/bee (strange to me, anyway). It was digging a hole in my garden in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was about 1-1/2” long with a loud buzz. Can you ID it for me?
Signature: Sue

Great Golden Digger Wasp excavates nest

Great Golden Digger Wasp excavates nest

Dear Sue,
You have observed and photographed a female Great Golden Digger Wasp excavating her nest.  Perhaps you will be fortunate enough to witness her stocking her nest with paralyzed Katydids or Crickets to feed her young.  Great Golden Digger Wasps are solitary wasps, and though she has a stinger, she would be very reluctant to use it on a human.  Solitary Wasps are generally not aggressive, nor do they defend their nests from attack.  This Great Golden Digger Wasp uses her instincts to locate Katydids and sting them.  Her venom does not kill the prey, but merely paralyzes it.  She then drags the paralyzed Katydid back to the nest and buries it.  She lays an egg on the paralyzed Katydid and the larva then has a supply of fresh, not dried, meat upon which to feed.

Very cool, Daniel!
Thanks for the great information and such a quick response!!
Are these wasps very common? I’ve never seen one…
Sue

Great Golden Digger Wasps are not rare and they are found in all 48 lower states.

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Subject: Bee/ant???
Location: Northwest, United States
July 27, 2013 4:22 pm
Came across a bug today that scared me soo bad! I’ve never seen anything like it.. Do you know what this is?
Signature: Chelsea

Black and Yellow Mud Dauber

Black and Yellow Mud Dauber

Hi Chelsea,
This is a Black and Yellow Mud Dauber,
Sceliphron caementarium, a solitary wasp that uses mud to construct a nest for its young that is provisioned with paralyzed spiders as food.  According to BugGuide:  “Nests may comprise up to 25 cylindrical cells, with typically 6-15 (up to 40) prey spiders per cell. The female may provide the cells with a temporary closure (a thin mud curtain) to keep out parasites while she is collecting prey. Once the cell is stocked, she lays an egg on one of the last prey and seals the cell with a thick mud plug. She may then add more mud to cover the entire cluster of cells.”  The Black and Yellow Mud Dauber is not an aggressive species, however it might sting if carelessly handled.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination