digging bee/wasp green stripes on back metalic green eyes
Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 9:55 AM
Was hoping you could indentify these bees. there are at least 30 to 40 that just stared showing up and digging in our flowerbed.
act1guy
madera, CA (central valley)

Sand Wasp

Sand Wasp

Dear act1guy,
This is a Sand Wasp in the genus Bembix.  We look forward to seeing these wasps each summer.  The two places in Los Angeles where we encounter them are in the Los Angeles River near the Glendale Narrows and near Union Station downtown at the freeway underpass when we walk to a film lab.  The Bembix Sand Wasps or Digger Wasps. according to Charles Hogue in his wonderful book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, are:  “characteristic inhabitants of dry sandy areas such as beach bluffs and mesas, sand dunes and arroyos;  I have seen them working in the long jump pit on the track at the University of Southern California.  They fly low and rapidly over the ground seeking prey and tending their burrow nests.  The nests are shallow tubes running obliquely into the soil;  each contains a single larva, which the female keeps supplied with a diet of fresh flies and other insects.  In practicing this form of continuous provisioning of the larvae, sand wasps differ from spider wasps, mud daubers, and many other digging wasps, which provide only a single cache of food that must last throughout the larva’s development.  Sand wasps are not social insects, as are hornets and yellow jackets; yet, as a result of the tendency of individuals to nest in the same area, a type of colony develops.”  So, Sand Wasps help to eliminate an overabundance of flies which often plague us humans during the hot summer months.

Location: California

11 Responses to Sand Wasp

  1. Kelsey Muir says:

    Hey, my name is Kelsey from Saskatoon, SK. I was just having a long conversation about bee’s and wasps and our fear with them with my old elementary best friend. So, i started talking about when we were in elementary and when we were digging in the sand box and we seen a weird bee/wasp looking thing and it looked like this but a lot more vibrant. It was almost neon, and i never knew what it was, but after looking it up we found this website, and now we know what it is. I was terrified. I’ve never seen anything like it, and i’m sure everyone gets that feeling when they are trying to remember the name of something but can’t remember, it bothers then so much until they remember it, well it was the same for us but couldn’t find the words to describe it, and when we first described what we saw, no one believed us. Well we had that feeling for 5 years, and feel so relieved that we found what it was and can finally prove to people from 5 years ago that it is a real thing. It blew my mind when i first saw it, and the colors were amazing and bright. So thankful people have seen the same thing as me and my friend. I saw the Sand wasp in Saskatoon, SK, at King George Community School sand pit. I’m so relieved to find this.

  2. Mrs. Tucker's Kindergarten class says:

    Do they sting? My Kindergarten class wants to know…..we have some out in the sand area on our playground….

    • bugman says:

      Sand Wasps are solitary wasps that are not aggressive. Though they are capable of stinging, they are reluctant to do so.

  3. Tammy says:

    Thank you guys for this information.. although I think this baby can be aggressive it’s made me move two times on my front porch …? I was shocked to see such a thing never in my life have I seen such a bright white and yes it’s very neon colorful . It does want me to move so I moved because of the fear if it will sting so now I know it will and not to swat at it ., I usually get my bug!! . lLOL feeling lucky in Kentucky
    TBradshaw in Ky

  4. Lisa says:

    We have LOTS of sand wasps in our horse-riding arena. I was happy to learn that they eat flies! I am concerned that although they’re reluctant to sting, they will, because when we ride our horses, we’re destroying their nests. If they sting a horse with a rider on it, the horse’s reaction could be dangerous.
    My question is if we keep a sprinkler going on the arena for a week, they could return when the sand is dry again, correct? Or, is there a season for them making nests? I am located in Tulare, California

    • bugman says:

      We believe your fears of a sting occurring because of destroying nests is far-fetched, because though they nest in colonies, Sand Wasps are not social wasps and it is social wasps like hornets and yellowjackets that will defend a nest. We do not know how irrigation will affect the Sand Wasps.

  5. JOHN WILSON says:

    I have to share this story: 2nd grade. My class is playing in the park next to the school. I was always into catching and studying bugs. I have a sandwich bag full of bugs I’ve caught (a carpenter bee, and 2 blue sand wasps). The teacher says it’s time to go inside, but I’m not done playing with bugs so I stuff the bag in my pocket for later. Bad move. I begged and I pleaded, but my teacher ultimately refused to reach in my pocket to grab the bag full of bees. I’m 35, and to this day… They’re still there.

  6. Michelle Berrett-Muir says:

    Hey-
    My wife was moving some paving stones yesterday and freaked out when she saw a green eyed bug. She and our daughter thought for sure it would kill us if stung. Funny how that fear works when you see a bug that is so different. To my question, are the green eyed sand wasps a common thing to see in Utah? This is where we’re found our first.

  7. Alvin says:

    When I was a child I lived in Yorba Linda California & they were always digging up the San box at our school- daily 15- 30 digging kicking up sand, I loved watching them.I was terrified of bee’s too “But not these type”. I always thought they were the nice bee’s or(good guys). They would land and dig all around me while I dug up fire ant nest. I guessing they wanted the larva from the ants ?.
    They were always helping me dig truly fascinating to watch nature do it’s thing right next to me I was never stung by these gentle sand wasp- They were so cool ?

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