Huge great Golden Digger Wasp
Location:  Fairfield, Maine USA
August 23, 2010 11:53 am
Dear Bugman, the other day I was going to shoot a few Argiope aurantia we have living in the garden when I hear and saw this enormous orange black and yellow blur zipping around. I pursued it and saw it was a wasp like none I’d ever seen. It was probably approaching at least 3” long and was also quite stout. Although initially, I wanted to stay a safe distance away, it soon became clear it was not concerned with me. It would even stop, cock its head up toward me and then carry on feeding on nectar from the Goldenrod. It was hard to follow it around closely enough to get pictures because it was actually quite shy. I’ve seen it on 3 different days, so far, and hope to see it again.
Are they very solitary wasps? I feel that I keep seeing the same one, in the same area of the gardens…
Thank you,
James R

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Hi James,
The Great Golden Digger Wasp,
Sphex ichneumoneus, is a solitary wasp that provisions its nest with paralyzed katydids and crickets to feed its young.  Some solitary wasps like Cicada Killers and Sand Wasps nest in colonies, but we have never heard of colonial behavior in the Great Golden Digger Wasp.

Thank you Daniel,
Unfortunately, since the last time, I have not seen it again.
It has been getting cold in the evenings; do they winter over, or just die each tear?

Hi again James,
Adults do not overwinter.

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Location: Maine

6 Responses to Great Golden Digger Wasp

  1. Karen says:

    I live on the same latitude as James but farther west; in Kemptville, ON, half way between Ottawa and Ogdensburg, NY.
    I’ve never seen the Great Golden Digger Wasp before but I have at least 3 of them burrowing in my yard. The soil is very sandy and their burrow gets about half a day of sun.

    Are these rare creatures? Are they moving North as the planet warms up? Is there anything I should be doing to encourage them?

    Thank you,

    • bugman says:

      The Great Golden Digger Wasp is not a rare species, and according to BugGuide sightings, it is found in most of North America. As long as there are flowers to provide nectar for the adults, and Katydids to provide a food for the young, you should have no trouble attracting Great Golden Digger Wasps.

  2. Cindy Tice says:

    I live in Athens Maine and I have a colony of them living near the base of a dying pine tree.

  3. CindyTice says:

    I didn’t mean to insinuate that I thought the wasps had anything to do with the health of the tree. I just meant that there are quite a few making nests there.

    • bugman says:

      Then the soil is probably ideal for digging, and there is probably a plentiful supply of Katydids for provisioning the nest.

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