Big Blue Flying Insect
August 17, 2009
These bugs are living in a stone wall where I work in Rhinebeck, NY (it is summer right now). They fly out and bring back grasshoppers that seem to be paralyzed when they bring them back to the wall. They disappear with them in the wall and then a few days or weeks later (not sure) they drop the shell of the grasshopper out of the wall-like the entire inside has been eaten out.aaaaaaaa
Teresa B
Rhinebeck, NY

Blue Mud Wasp

Great Black Wasp

Dear Teresa,
This is one of two species of Thread Waist Wasps that we have trouble distinguishing from one another.  We believe it is a Blue Mud Wasp, Chalybion californicum, which according to BugGuide is :  “A large, active, blue-black wasp with irridescent blue wings. Frequents flowers for nectar and buildings for nest sites. Compare “Steel-Blue Cricket Hunter”, (or “Blue Mud Dauber”), Chlorion aerarium, which preys on crickets. This is about the same size as Chalybion, and is said to have a longer pedicel (narrow waist between thorax and abdomen). The body of Chalybion looks much more hairy, and more steely-blue, based on specimen photos.”  The other possibility is that it is Chlorion aerarium, also depicted on BugGuide. which states:  “Habitat  Although generally not closely associated with humans, they are found wherever their hosts (Gryllus crickets) are found, which could include close proximity to homes (though not so much as Sceliphron and Chalybion). Chlorion is usually found in open areas such as meadows, overgrown fields, dunes, beach edges, etc., although they may not necessarily hunt in the same habitat as they nest. They are sometimes associated with the Cicada Killer where the ranges of these two wasps overlap, C. aerarium digging burrows off side of the larger wasps nest (O’Brien, 1989).
Season  Late July and early August (in Michigan)
Remarks  Females mass-provision several serial cells, each containing from 2 to 9 nymphs or adults of Gryllus pennsylvanicus. Prey are transported on the ground, venter-up, with the wasp’s mandibles grasping the antennae of the cricket.
”  It is worth noting that the adults of both species feed on nectar and pollen, and the crickets are used as food for the brood.  We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he can provide the exact identification.

Blue Mud Wasp

Ok, here are all the identifications:
The “blue mud dauber” or “Chlorion” is neither.  These are two nice images of a female “great black wasp,” Sphex pensylvanicus.  They hunt katydids as food for their larval offspring, as the submitter observed.
Keep up the great work!

Location: Rhinebeck, New York

43 Responses to Great Black Wasp

  1. Leana Kirkreit says:

    I have a question please. One of these great black wasps comes on to our patio and attracts the attention of our Maine Coon cat, who loves to catch bugs, will it hurt him if he eats it?

  2. Callie Saunders says:

    I live in Ohio. I have seen these and I just want to know if these bugs can hurt me?

    • bugman says:

      They are not aggressive.

      • Kristine says:

        I have wasps that look like these on the overhang of my house about 15 ft above the ground. They like to sit on my star magnolia bush. I haven’t gotten stung,, but they “bump/run into ” me while gardening. Should I be concerned?

  3. Kim Cooper says:

    I would call it blue wasp I found it in NSW Waitara Australia have they imigrated from USA?intrestingKim

    • bugman says:

      We have not found any information about the North American Great Black Wasp being introduced to Australia. Most likely you observed a more local species like this Australian Black Flower Wasp pictured on FlickR or perhaps a Blue Flower Wasp.

  4. Billy L Mcdonald says:

    I have found 6 of these in the last month. In only one room of the house. I am in South Texas. Looks like the Great Black Wasp. Doors stay closed. AC on all the time. Where are they coming from.

  5. Jessica Boster says:

    can these bugs multiply ? do they sting you ?

    • bugman says:

      Like other insects, Great Black Wasps mate and reproduce. Female Great Black Wasps have a stinger, but they are not considered dangerous nor aggressive.

  6. Luis says:

    I have found a nest i cant tell how many of them . Do they sting humand or dogs can they be harmfull . They are great looking insect i would not want to get rid of them .

    • bugman says:

      They are not aggressive. Might sting a dog if it tried to eat one, or a human if the human catches one with hands.

  7. Stephanie says:

    So they eat caterpillars? I have one that frequents my butterfly garden but haven’t seen many caterpillars or butterflies. I was wondering if this could be the cause?

    • bugman says:

      They do not eat Caterpillars. Great Black Wasps take nectar from flowers and according to BugGuide the female Great Black Wasp “Provision nests (in burrow in soft earth) with Katydids or grasshoppers” for her young. Another name for the Great Black Wasp is Katydid Hunter according to BugGuide.

  8. Rod says:

    We have 3 new nest areas of these wasps close to our main entryway. Never had them or seen them before this summer. Should we just leave them? Will they disappear over winter or come back next year. I understand they’re not aggressive and don’t tend to bite, but they are big and annoying. What to do?

    • bugman says:

      If conditions remain favorable, multiple generations of solitary wasps may continue to nest in the same areas in consecutive years. Our opinion is that you should learn to live in peaceful harmony with this magnificent creatures.

  9. Gilles Lavergne says:

    While I appreciate your response to Rod, I have a problem which is similar but perhaps more annoying. These Great Black Wasps have decided this year to populate the sand fill surrounding our pool with some 20 nests. These are located under the wooden walk-around all around the pool making the nests well protected and non-accessible except for the wasps. Despite assurances that these insects are non-aggresive they scare all those using the pool. In past years we have had a nest or two of these wasps and the odd bumble bee nest, all of which we were able to live in harmony with but nothing like the swarms this year. My concern is that next year there will be even more. How can I prevent the invasion? Do the adult queens hibernate in the winter and if so where; I assume they do not hibernate underground? I intend to lesve things as is this summer but any suggestions regarding next year would be apprecited.

    • bugman says:

      They do not hibernate. The female lives for one season and each year produces a new generation. Perhaps the large population this year is tied to a large population of Katydids.

  10. Holly H. says:

    I have a large amount flying around our two trees and Hibiscus during the heat of the day only. Are they attracted to the Hibiscus?

  11. Tony says:

    Western NC: Hav noticed what appears to b these bees AND have noticed stink bug (BMSB) infestation on notable decline this year. Is there a relationship, n do these bees eat bmsb? THAT wud make me a happy camper!

  12. zoe says:

    we just found loads of em on our landing and mme and my friend got really scared all we want to know is if they sting please help cuz im really scared

  13. mary says:

    in my friends house the are 5 and we dont know what to do we are so scared if they are coing to do something to us in the night

  14. Karen says:

    We had a lot of these black wasps show up last summer. And just yesterday my grandson got stung 3 times (2 on stomach 1 on hand) after sliding on his stomach down the slide. While I appreciate their beauty I can not have them around. My granddaughter is highly allergic to bee and wasp stings and as we found out yesterday so is my grandson.
    So they have to go. My question is how do you find the nest? What does it look like from topside? We thought about putting granular sulphur out in the yard. To keep their “food” away. Will this work? Any suggestions?

  15. Karen James says:

    I’ve seen a number (less than a dozen) of black wasps that started showing up last summer/fall, appearing most often in our guest bathroom however I’m now starting to see them in the master bedroom and bath as well. We’ve had 5 in the last 2 days. The one that I killed and hour ago caught my attention because of the loud buzzing it made while flying around. I’ve read about the great black wasp so I wonder if that is the only type of black wasp. The wasps that I have killed do not appear to have a stinger on them and aren’t very large and they also don’t to appear to be aggressive however a wasp is frightening so I go after them with a flyswatter. I’m not sure where they’re coming in but I’ve read on different sites they have plenty of ways to get in your house. I just don’t know why I’m seeing them now after living in this house for 18 years.

  16. Karen James says:

    Let me add that we live in north central Texas and that I’ve also noticed a large increase in red wasps all around the outside of our house in the last two years.

  17. J. Turner says:

    I seen this bug today (N.Wisconsin) It was teasing a spider web with its front feet, shaking it, until the spider ran up to investigate and it snatched up the little spider flew on a nearby plant and began munching on it, then flew away with it !

  18. Colin sullivan says:

    I was carpet cleaning with my dad and I saw one and it scared me to see it had a dragon fly like not moving and it was dragging it so I looked it up and couldn’t find anything could it be using a new host other than a cricket

  19. joAnne says:

    I have seen one of these wasps with a white stripe across it,s back. is this the same kind of wasp or is this something different ? Thank you…….

  20. Jarrod Schuknecht says:

    Is there a way to kill these? I have 20 of them flying around living in my concrete patio my daughter is 2. These things are 2 to 3 inches long

  21. Barb Meyers says:

    Would they eat tomato hornworms? I have them for the first time this year.. Lots of Giant wasps in my flowers. I wish they would move to the garden! I try to keep organic.

  22. Vicki says:

    I just watched one hunt a huge spider out if my rockery and drag it across my patio. I live just north of seattle

  23. Natalie Cooper says:

    I live in Ontario Canada and I have just found a whole horde of these things flying around my back yard. I am surrounded by trees and bushes and all kinds of shrubs. I am 51 years old and I can honestly say that I have never seen these before. I had to google ” big blue flying bug with wasp legs” to find this. They kind of live in behind my hydro metre. What can I do??

  24. Ava says:

    Can they go in you home

    • bugman says:

      Most things can get into a home. Great Black Wasps do not seek shelter indoors. They are an outdoor species that might accidentally get into a house.

  25. Jacque Fife says:

    I was stung by one of these blue winged wasps on my forearm a few years ago. I still have the lingering effects from that sting. It swelled up my arm, got really hot. Then a few days went away. But every no and then the area that was stung itches so bad i could scratch my skin off. It last a few hours to a day and stops. Then I’m fine for awhile and then it stsrts up again. This last time it flared up I scratched so hard I bled as I was scratching from wrist to elbow topside only. Then a rash appeared toward my fingers up my arm to just below shoulder. So now entire arm itches. But again only topside. It has now been 3 weeks of this on and off daily itching, stinging, hurting on fire arm. I am going to the ER because no amout of ointment helps. The benadryl pill only puts me to sleep. It does stop the itching for about an hour. But the pain and itch can wake me out of a dead sleep. So don’t tell me that little #%$*@ doesnt sting or bite. And it lasts years.

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