KY: Black wasp with showy yellow antennae
August 26, 2009
This wasp has been around my house for the past few weeks, but its the first time I’ve ever seen this species anywhere. It looks significantly larger than the common red wasp here. Reminds me of a tarantula hawk but maybe slightly smaller. I looked through pictures of the local spider wasps but couldn’t find a match–looks more similar to that one from Australia except the wings look darker. Has very quick, jerky movement and exhibits wing shaking or flickering. It appears to be foraging for possibly other insects the way it is crawling all over these vines in the picture. It is very aggressive and has chased and pursued me hundreds of yards–so I’m lucky to have finally snapped these pictures at a safe distance. Body is completely black, Wings are black and s hiny with brown terminal ends, and the antennae are slightly mustard yellow and can curl. The passionflower with the posterior view is exactly 1″ from base to top (excluding the spikes on top of the bud) for scale, but I can’t tell if the wasp is forshortened by perspective due to its angle because it “looks” longer than that to me. It’s a different bud than the one with the side view of the wasp–I wasn’t able to find that bud again.
I’m not too crazy about this thing because of its aggressiveness, but I’d like to know more. If it is invasive or dangerous I might try to eradicate it, but if it is something rare or less dangerous that it looks, I might try to leave it be!
Louisa, KY, USA

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Dear Jeff,
We are excited to be getting photos of a magnificent new species for our website.  You are correct that this is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae.  The species is Entypus unifasciatus and it doesn’t have a common name.  BugGuide has a considerable amount of information on this species.

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

BugGuide indicates: Life Cycle There is one generation per year. Males emerge first. By late August/early September most females are worn. By mid- to late September most female are very worn, with most of the apical area of the wing being tattered away. Life cycle probably more drawn out in far south, but there is very little difference. Most individuals do not persist into October. … Parasitoid of spiders, including wolf spiders (Lycosidae). … Females dig a burrow that ends in a terminal chamber off of the side of a mammal burrow or large crack in the ground. The serrations on the hind tibiae are used to aid the movement of soil out of the burrow entrance. The position in which the egg is laid is unknown. Larvae feed on one large spider and, as in all Pompilids that have one generation per year, overwinter as pupae.” We hope knowing a bit about this magnificent wasp will keep you from trying to eradicate it.

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

Location: Louisa, Kentucky

21 Responses to Spider Wasp: Entypus unifasciatus

  1. Chris Mapham says:

    I found this website in my quest to identify a similar bug I saw today. Unlike Jeff’s, mine was longer–about an inch–and narrower. Its body was completely black–no brown tips on the wings, which were also narrower. It had bright yellow antennae which were arched but not curled. This insect was rummaging around garden foliage, flying from one plant to another in similar quick, jerky movements. This one was not aggressive as I could view it closely. Sadly, no camera handy.

  2. Scott Wilson says:

    One stung me on the ear today and it hurt. Never took that long to get over a sting after taking a benadryl. Made my lower jaw and part of my head hurt.

  3. Mary Brouillard says:

    I have one like Jeff’s with yellow antennae and yellow brown wing tips. I’ve only seen one but it on my hummingbird feeders. The birds seem to ignore it but give it some distance. I don’t care to find out aggressive it is. I live in Augusta, Georgia.IMG_0048.JPG

  4. Nelmaré says:

    Does some sub species of the spider wasp have completely black wings with yellow feelers only?

  5. Elizabeth says:

    This beast was on my roof here in Dawsonville, Ga. Growing up in Atlanta, I never saw so many strange creatures until I moved to the country. It is almost two inches long, black wasp body (as we have lots of those around), rust colored antenna (about an inch long) and rust tips on the wings. It totally creeped me out. This is a first sighting for me. Side note: I stopped taking the top off of my Jeep when we moved here because of so many strange, large insects that like to ride along with me in my Jeep. Eww. Thank you for this valuable website!

  6. Chris says:

    Yup! I had one dragging a large spider across driveway! I have pics if interested.

  7. Jesus says:

    Saw one today in Greenville SC dragging a large recluse-like spider, I got close and it quickly jumped all over my legs before taking an aggressive stance between me and it’s quarry. I didn’t hang around long to further provoke it.

    • bugman says:

      We wish you had gotten an image since we have none on our site of this spider and its prey. It is our understanding that they prey on Wolf Spiders as in this BugGuide image.

  8. Frank E. Kurczewski says:

    Any chance of seeing the photos of Entypus unifasciatus dragging large spider noted by Chris (August 7, 2017) and Jesus (August 8, 2018). We are doing a host selection paper on this species of wasp, which captures both wolf and fishing spiders in the eastern US and would like to identify the spiders. Thank you.

  9. Frank E. Kurczewski says:

    In reference to the August 22, 2018 photo of Entypus unifasciatus from Oklahoma City, OK by “Stephanie,” the host spider is Syspira sp. (Prowling spider)(Miturgidae). Of 414 host records for this species of wasp, this is the first host record (1/414, 0.02%) for this family of spider. We do, however, have the same genus and family host record for the congener Entypus aratus from Mexico. We should like to acknowledge “What’s That Bug” and Stephanie for this extremely rare and highly unusual host record. Does Stephanie have a last name to accompany this record in our forthcoming publication on spider wasps? Thank you. Keep up the good work.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for this information Fran, and also for the compliment. Is it possible for you to post this comment to the actual posting to which you refer?

  10. Maggie says:

    I have photos and a video of a spider wasp dragging a wolf spider. Where can I send the photos and video to? I’m watching it as I type now.

  11. Frank E. Kurczewski says:

    Maggie, Send images of spider wasp and wolf spider to me and I may be able to name it for you. Geographic location and size are very important in my identification. Thank you. Frank [[email protected]]

    • Malesia says:

      Frank, I encountered this spider wasp yesterday in my yard in Western Maryland. I managed to get pics and video of it wrestling and dragging off a spider of matching size. Comment here if you’re interested in seeing the footage and I will email it to you.

  12. Malesia Powers says:

    I have photos and video of a spider wasp that I ventured across today. It was dragging a spider across my yard that we had recently dug up a bit. I live in Western Maryland and have come across some strange bugs in my day but this was definitely the creepiest wasp I’ve ever encountered. Email me if you’d like me to share the footage. And thanks for the id on this beautiful beast.

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