gigantic bee/ wasp. Makes a hornet look small
July 29, 2009
Hi, heres a good one for you,
I do a lot of macro insect photography and have seen lots of bugs over the years, but after a single sighting whilst on holiday in italy (I’m from the UK) and hours of fruitless internet digging I’ve had no luck identifying this beast.
It had a body length of over 2″ (no kidding!) and distinctive markings (see pictures). It made the local european hornets (plently of them) look small. It spent most of its time on the ground with short flights between plants.
I dont have any extreme closeups since I didnt want my head any closer to it!! Shots with canon 100mm f2.8 macro and 5D MKII.
Hopefully you can shed some light on this!
We have just secured the funding to purchase several Canon 5D cameras for our photography program at LACC. We were struck by the similarities between your wasp and a North American species, Scolia nobilitata which may be viewed on BugGuide. Armed with that information, we searched Scolia and Italy and were led to a photo of Scolia flavifrons, the Mammoth Wasp, on TrekNature. Then we found more images with the name Megascolia maculata flavifrons, obviously a synonym. Continued searching led ut to the Wildside Holidays website that includes this information: “This is a very large solitary wasp, the female reaching up to 4.5cm whereas the male is a little smaller. This species appears in warm weather during late May, June, July and August. They hold no danger to humans despite their size and black / yellow warning colours. They feed eagerly on flower nectar and this is the best time to view them. The larger female can be told apart by her yellow face and short antennae. The male has a black head and longer antennae. Both have two yellow bands on their abdomens which can sometimes be divided to form 4 spots, which is more evident on the female in these pictures. You may see several of these wasps flying around decaying tree stumps, they have a purpose here. They are searching for larvae of a particular beetle. Inside the rotten wood may be young of the Rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes nasicornis) [See image below]. The female Mammoth wasp once she has discovered the huge larvae will sting one to paralyze it and then lay her egg on the outer skin. On hatching, the larvae of the Mammoth wasp will eat into its host thereby killing it. The larva of the wasp then creates a cocoon near to the meal remains. It will stay in this cocoon over winter and hatch out once the spring weather warms sufficiently.” Because of the yellow face, your specimen is a female.