What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Large black wasp type bug, with rather pretty wings
January 14, 2010
We have a tree in our garden that has just come into flower, and as we’ve only been here for 9 months, it’s the first time we’e seen this. Of course it’s covered in your normal run of the mill bee ( that usually drink at my bird bath, or drown if they fall or get pushed in), but I also noticed a bug I’ve never seen before. It’s about twice the length of a bee, and completely black, with oil like black wings. Oil, as in like oil mixed with water and how it swirls – they change colour depending on the light to having purple, gold and blue swirls on them. The photos I took show that it has what seems to be a small stinger on the end of its tail. As I’ve never seen this before, the only thing I know is that it likes the flowers on our tree, and moves quite quickly on the tree. I’m pretty sure it’s a wasp, just not sure which one. The pics I got were the best I could get, they moved on pretty quick, from one bunch of flowers, around the tree, then to another bunch. Not sure if this is a native to Australia or not, but they don’t look too friendly anyway, being all black. If anyone knows, thanks 🙂
Shepparton, Victoria, Australia

Black Flower Wasp

Black Flower Wasp

Dear Sarah,
This is some species of Scoliid Wasp in the family Scoliidae, commonly called Flower Wasps.  The adults feed upon nectar, and the female lays her eggs on Scarab Beetle Grubs similar to the White Grubs we just posted.  Though we don’t like to base scientific identifications on Flickr pages, we found an image entitled a Black Flower Wasp, Discolia soror, on Flickr that looks like your wasp.  A photo on the Botanic Gardens Trust government website supports that identification, so we are comfortable saying this is a Black Flower Wasp.  According to BugGuide, Scoliid Wasps can be recognized because of their large size, dark coloration and hairy bodies.  Csiro has a wonderful fact page, but alas, only a photo of a mounted specimen and we much prefer your excellent photos of a vibrant, living specimen.  The site indicates:  “Female black flower wasps can sting but rarely do, as they are not aggressive. It is not necessary to control them.

Black Flower Wasp

Black Flower Wasp

Your photos are so lovely, we are posting all of them.

Black Flower Wasp

Black Flower Wasp

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

15 Responses to Black Flower Wasp from Australia

  1. EVELYN says:

    I was blueberry picking. I went into the raspberry isle. A black bug landed on me (I didn’t know it was a wasp. I freaked out. It stung me (my very first time). I started screaming and then I started crying. My Dad found me and he helped me get back home.

  2. EVELYN says:

    I forgot to say that I am seven years old and have never been stung before. It was quite an experience. Thank you for explaininng the black flower wasp to me. Evelyn

  3. Jason Eddie says:

    Hello Bugman.
    I seem to have a nest of Black Flower Wasps in my compost heap.
    I have been at this house almost a year now and would like to use some compost but don’t want to annoy the wasps.
    What do I do?

    • bugman says:

      We suspect the Black Flower Wasps may be searching through your compost pile to find Scarab Larvae. You can try removing compost from the parts of the heap where there is no Wasp activity.

  4. Michael says:

    My daughter and I just had 2 black wasps inside our home (this a first)my question is where do they commonly reside and do I have to get pest control

  5. Jena says:

    Can you get an allergic reactions

  6. Bethany says:

    I just found a black wasp flying around my house and freaked out. I’m not sure if it was a male or female but I’m glad that I found out they don’t usually sting. Also, right now I have no idea where it went would it have stayed inside if the door was open?

  7. Pamela says:

    I had one of these wasps fly into my bedroom yesterday and I must say it scared the hell out of me as I have never seen anything like it before and thanks to this site I now know what it was.
    I am glad that I did not try to kill it I managed to catch it in a big box and took it out on my balcony and it flew away free.

  8. M MARSHALL says:

    I have had what I believe to be Black Flower wasps hanging around for about 2 weeks. I don’t see them flying around outside very much …. but every day I am getting between 6 to 12 wasps per day being caught between the fly screen and the bedroom window. We have found a couple inside the bedroom. If they have a nest, I don’t know where it is. What can I do?

    • bugman says:

      Black Flower Wasps are not social wasps that build a large nest. It is our understanding that many members of this family do not build a true nest, but rather, the female lays an egg on the larva of a Scarab Beetle that is located underground. The egg is laid on site where the Beetle Grub is found and the female Wasp does not construct a true nest.

  9. Alisha says:

    I’d never seen these before but today two were outside and one flew into my house, it was so loud and made a huge ‘thud’ as it flew into a wall. I thought it might be aggressive but I hate killing bugs, so I threw a tea towel over it and managed to safely take it outside.
    I’m glad they are native and not aggressive, and reading the comments here would encourage people to try safely capture and remove them rather than using pest control measures.

  10. Georgie says:

    Saw one of these in my garden yesterday for the first time, what a wonderful looking insect, it flew under some black plastic where there was some pine mulch and was digging underneath, looking for a grub to lay eggs I think!! Amazing wings…

  11. I found one of these beautiful wasps caught inside a net over my veggie bed. I safely let it out but wished I’d grabbed my phone to take a photo first. So beautiful and large. The black and blue features were so deep! Happily flew away when let out.

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