A golden digger wasp?
Location:  South Pasadena, CA
August 6, 2010 2:03 am
I’ve been seeing this large handsome wasp on the milkweed. It looks like the great golden digger wasps you’ve posted. If it is, do you have any information about how many katydids and grasshoppers it will feed to its young? Thank you. Must order your book.

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Hi Barbara,
Your identification is correct.  WE have not been fortunate enough to see any Great Golden Digger Wasps in our garden this summer.  Unlike previous years, we do not have flowering onions or carrots right now, and they are plants that attract these active wasps. According to BugGuide:  “Female digs burrow almost vertically. Cells are dug radiating out from central tunnel. Larvae are provisioned with crickets, camel crickets, katydids (long-horned grasshoppers). One paralyzed prey is placed in each cell, and one egg is laid on it. One generation per year.
”  A female will continue to paralyze prey to feed her brood as long as hunting is good and as long as she survives.  According to the Galveston County Master Gardeners website:  “the female Great Golden, in preparation for egg laying, constructs as many as half a dozen nests.”  The website also indicates:  “Great Golden nests have a cylinder shaped main tunnel that is one-half inch in diameter and four to six inches deep. From the main tunnel, she extends secondary tunnels that lead to individual larval cells where she will store anesthetized prey.”  It is difficult to place an exact average number of Katydids a female Great Golden Digger Wasp will feed to her young, but if she builds six nests with three chambers per nest, she may have as many as 18 young to feed, each with its own paralyzed Orthopteran.  Most females would probably average somewhere between 3 and 10, but that is just speculation on our part as we were unable to find any concrete statistics available to us online.  A trip to a library with online article access would be required to get the information contained in the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Oct., 1985) article that appears to have some statistics.

Thank you.  I haven’t been seeing the grasshoppers and katydids lately.  I hope they’re not all gone.  It would be amazing to see the wasp capture a grasshopper.  Grasshoppers seem quite formidable.

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Location: California

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