Currently viewing the category: "Thread Waisted Wasps"
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Subject: Brilliant blue insect
Location: San Diego, CA 92129
July 19, 2014 3:50 pm
My six year old daughter showed me a brilliant blue insect carcass in our San Diego backyard (Rancho Penasquitos area) that I was unable to identify. At first, I was thinking it was a type of cuckoo wasp, but I’ve been unable to find any photograph that matches its appearance. The insect was about an inch long. If you can help identify it, I’d be grateful.
Thanks,
Signature: M. Yasuda

Steel Blue Cricket Hunter

Steel Blue Cricket Hunter

Dear M. Yasuda,
Our suspicions that this was a Steel Blue Cricket Hunter,
Chlorion aerarium, started to dissipate when we realized that none of the examples posted to BugGuide had coloring this intense.  The closest is this Bugguide image of a Steel Blue Cricket Hunter from Los Angeles.  Then we located this excellent match on Project Noah.

Excellent!  Daniel, thanks so much for your quick and informed response.
Mark

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: double winged, orange hornet?
Location: Massachusettes, USA
July 19, 2014 12:42 pm
Never seen this thing before. It has an orange body and legs. A yellow head with black eyes, antenae and half of the abdomen as well. The other half is orange. It has two sets of wings and burrows under ground. This one is exactly 25 mm long (one inch). Help identify!!
Signature: Devin

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Dear Devin,
This magnificent wasp is a Great Golden Digger Wasp,
Sphex ichneumoneus, and we can only presume that it is dead because of Unnecessary Carnage.  Great Golden Digger Wasps are solitary wasps and they are not aggressive towards humans.  As your email indicates, the female excavates a burrow and she provisions it with Katydids, Crickets and other Orthopterans to feed her brood.  This is a beneficial species and it should not be harmed.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: UFB- unidentified flying bug
Location: South Salem, New York
July 8, 2014 6:23 am
Hi!
We found strange bugs digging gravelly holes in-between the stone tiles on our porch. We’ve looked it up several times, but we’ve found nothing useful. Does it sting? Can anybody confirm what type of insect this is?
Signature: The Greenbergs

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Hi Greenbergs,
This is a Great Golden Digger Wasp, a docile, solitary wasp that spends its time visiting flowers for food and females hunt Katydids which they drag back to underground burrows to feed the young.  Only female wasps have stingers, and solitary wasps like the Great Golden Digger Wasp rarely sting humans, though a sting might result through careless handling.  Unlike social wasps like Hornets and Yellowjackets that will sting to protect the nest, the Great Golden Digger Wasp does not sting to protect the nest.  The sting is used to paralyze Katydids so the hatchling wasp larvae will have a source of fresh food.  We hope we have convinced you that the Great Golden Digger Wasps do not present a threat to you, your family or your pets, and that you will allow them to continue to nest on your porch.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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.

Update and Question:  April 18, 2014
Subject: Grass-carrying wasp
April 17, 2014 1:32 pm
When in the spring/summer is best to clean out old grass carrying wasp nests allowing them to emerge as happy, healthy adults?
Signature: Dee Maack

Nice question Dee.  This is speculation on our part.  Based on information on Grass Carrying Wasps that is available on BugGuide:  “Taken from the Internet Reference below (Penn State): The adult wasps emerge from their cocoons in early summer, mate, and the females locate a suitable nest site. She collects blades of grass and grass and hay stems to line the nest cavity. The wasp can be seen flying through the air with the blades trailing beneath her. She lands at the hole and enters, pulling the blade in behind her. After the nest is prepared, she hunts for tree crickets (i.e., Oecanthus sp.), captures and paralyses them with her sting, and transports them to the nest. She deposits eggs in the nest and the emerging larvae will feed on the living, but immobile crickets. When the larvae reach the appropriate size (in 4–6 days at 70–75° F.), they spin a cocoon and pupate. The adult wasps emerge in 2–3 weeks. In Pennsylvania, Isodontia mexicana typically produce two generations per year.”  We would suggest mid to late June as a time to consider clearing out nests from the previous year, however, if you notice pupae as you are cleaning out the windows, you may want to delay the clearance a few more weeks.  We have added your question to a recent posting on the nests of Grass Carrying Wasps.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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