Huge Sicilian wasp
August 12, 2009
Hi experts, I’m hoping you’ll be able to tell me what this beast is. I’ve only seen it dead as I fished it out of a pool in Western Sicily a couple of weeks ago and in any case I don’t think I’d have dared get close to it alive.
Apologies for the quality, I only had my phone by way of camera and it began to stink and was covered in ants after an hour out of the pool so I had to abandon it.
The body was smooth and hairless like a wasp’s but the abdomen ended bluntly instead of in the typical tapered point. There was a brown ovipositor or sting sticking out, almost a millimeter thick.
Rizla packet included for scale. The bug was almost 2 inches in length / across the wingspan.
I’m hoping you’ll tell me it was a wasp as I’ve been scaring friends with the picture ever since!
Paceco, Western Sicily
Just two weeks ago, we posted some photos of a Mammoth Wasp, Scolia flavifrons, from Italy. Here is information we found from the Wildside Holidays website: “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.“