Subject: What wasp is this?
Location: Upper Marlboro,MD
August 23, 2013 6:01 am
Approximately 3/4”flying in swarms several inches above turf.No obvious ground holes.
We are so sad, and we are hoping that by posting your images and tagging them as Unnecessary Carnage, we will educate both you and our public about these beautiful and beneficial Digger Wasps or Blue-Winged Wasps, Scolia dubia. They are solitary wasps and they are not an aggressive species, despite the stinging capabilities of the females. Males do not sting. According to BugGuide: “Larvae are parasites of green June beetles and Japanese beetles” and “Males and females have a courtship dance, flying close to the ground in a figure-8 or S pattern. Females burrow into ground in search of grubs, especially those of the Green June Beetle, Cotinis, and the Japanese Beetle Popillia japonica. She stings it and often burrows farther down, then constructs a cell and lays an egg on the host. Larva pupates and overwinters in a cocoon within the body of the host. One generation per year in North, more in South.” Japanese Beetles are an invasive exotic species that can decimate an ornamental garden if there are large numbers. Any insect that helps to control Japanese Beetle populations naturally is beneficial. We hope you will reconsider your original impulse to eradicate these majestic Digger Wasps and allow nature to keep any population balance of potential pest insects in check.
CORRECTION: NOT Unnecessary Carnage
I actually found these two deceased and in no way contributed to their demise.
After I submitted my request to you I searched the web and was able to I’d them and it makes sense that they are there given the presence of Japanese Beetles in the area.
Thanks so much for the clarification. We are happy that no carnage was involved These appear to be males, and males do not live as long as females. Male Digger Wasps likely die shortly after mating while females need to live longer to hunt and lay eggs.