What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Flying insect
Location: Newcastle, NSW. Australia.
December 31, 2013 8:07 pm
Can you please help me identify this flying insect that has appeared in our garden in the past month (December 2013). There are quite a few of them, and they appear to like burrowing in the soil and lawn. They are not aggressive, but large enough to give you a fright!!
Signature: The bugman

Blue Flower Wasp

Blue Flower Wasp

Happy New Year.  This is our first posting of 2014.  This is a Blue Flower Wasp, Scolia soror, and we have also seen alternative common names including Black Flower Wasp, Hairy Blue Flower Wasp or Hairy Flower Wasp, depending upon the source.  According to the Victoria Museum fact sheet:  “These wasps will most likely be seen flying just above ground level and in particular flying near or around compost heaps, wood heaps or dead stumps of trees.”  The site goes on to explain:  “Adult female flower wasps are designed to dig. They are large and powerful wasps. The female wasps are often seen visiting compost heaps or wood piles or flying around the dead stump of a tree. They are searching for scarab beetle grubs (such as the Christmas beetle group) in the ground and are quite capable of digging into compost heaps or saw-dust of a tree stump to find beetle grubs.  …. However, many wasps have developed the technique of paralysing their prey and laying an egg inside the host. The hatched larva then feed inside the living host. Flower wasps are one such group of wasps.  Having located a beetle grub, the female stings and lays an egg inside it. The sting from the wasp does not kill the beetle grub but only paralyses it. There is a good reason why the female wasp does not kill the beetle grub. If the sting were to kill the beetle grub, then its tissue would immediately start to rot and decompose. When the wasp egg hatches inside the paralysed beetle grub it is surrounded by living tissue – the food that it needs to eat. The developing wasp larva knows which parts of the beetle grub to eat first to prolong the grub’s life for as long as possible; thus maximizing the chances of complete development of the wasp larva.”  We have read that female Blue Flower Wasps are capable of stinging humans, but they rarely do.  Carelessly handling a Blue Flower Wasp may result in a sting, but since they do not defend their young, there is little chance of being stung while observing a female in search of food for her offspring.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
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14 Responses to Blue Flower Wasp from Australia

  1. Elaine Ward says:

    blue flower wasps swarming in my front garden in Mount Eliza Victoria

    • Michele says:

      This is the first time that I have ever seen a blue flower wasp in my twenty odd years of gardening, hence my looking at this site. The coincidence is that I live in Mount Eliza where the previous respondent also lives. They are very lovely looking insects!

  2. Rose Lovejoy says:

    Hi, My name is Rose and I live in the ACT. I am pretty sure we have these wasps in our garden and have had for a couple of years. They are continuously flying around the garden and never landing,that we see anyway. I happened to catch one this morning, I thought it was caught in the fence, however after reading this blurb, maybe she was burrowing into the soil. Do they do any damage to the garden is my question? Is there a benefit to having them? They are mostly here in the morning hours. I have a photo of it.

    • bugman says:

      Many people would consider Flower Wasps beneficial in the garden because they prey upon Scarab Larvae and pollinate flowers.

  3. Trevor says:

    Have spotted 6 of these glorius wasps i n my front yard in Mornington Victoria.
    I haven’t seen these big beauties for 40 years when i lived in Frankston.

  4. Carolin says:

    Just seen one digging in my garden.
    I’ve been a keen gardener for 25 years but haven’t seen one before.
    Nunawading, Victoria.

  5. Sue says:

    Have just seen a swarm in my front garden this morning. Beautiful! I’m in Kaleen, Canberra.

  6. Lesley Coombs says:

    We have had these blue flower wasps for a few weeks now. They only seem to be interested in our lemon tree.

  7. Sue says:

    Forgot to say these wasps have only arrived since I planted blue flowering perennials in my front garden. Who would have thought…

  8. Andrew says:

    I think the females are what we used to call bluebottles in Tassie when I was a kid. See plenty in my garden in Sale.

  9. Paula says:

    Have just seen one of these beauties in my vegetable garden, had never seen one in my 50 years of gardening , so lovely

  10. Adam says:

    Just spotted one in my front yard in yallambie victoria. First time I’ve ever seen one. Particularly large and intimidating thing. Beautiful colour! The blue in the light is mesmerizing. I reckon a sting would suck from one of these.

  11. Ant says:

    One today In Kilmore Victoria, was like a flying alien jewel, it flew around and around me many times as I turned almost dancing to watch in turn.

    I could never call this a black flower wasp, was luminous blue …and so beautiful

  12. Lee says:

    My first sighting of a blue flower wasp .. it was having a drink of water from my bucket. I managed to take a few photos as it appeared to be enjoying sitting in the water for 5 minutes having a bath! Beautiful coloured wings.

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