The Blue Winged Wasp: A Quick Dive into Its World

The Blue Winged Wasp (Scolia dubia) is a unique and beneficial insect native to the United States.

Its habitat extends from the St. Laurence River down to Florida and west to Arizona, making it quite widespread across the country 1.

This fascinating wasp is easy to identify by its black head and thorax, rust-red colored abdomen, and two yellow spots on its first red segment2.

An interesting feature of Blue Winged Wasps is that they are solitary, meaning they don’t live in large colonies like some other wasp species3.

Their primary reason for being seen as an asset in many gardens is their role in controlling harmful pests.

For instance, their larvae feed on Japanese beetle grubs and other scarab beetle larvae, which can cause significant damage to plants4.

Amidst the variety of wasp species, Blue Winged Wasps have a relatively gentle demeanor, making them less threatening to humans.

Remember that these wasps are an integral part of nature’s pest control system, and their presence contributes positively to maintaining a healthy garden ecosystem5.

Blue Winged Wasp: Basic Facts

Identification

The Blue Winged Wasp, scientifically known as Scolia dubia, is characterized by:

  • Shiny black head, thorax, and fore abdomen
  • Two yellow spots on the sides of its abdomen
  • Distinctive dark blue wings
  • Distinctive antennae

These features make it easy to identify among other wasps in the Hymenoptera order.

File:Blue-winged wasp in BBG (42849).jpg

Source: RhododendritesCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Range and Habitat

Blue Winged Wasps can be found in a wide range of areas across the United States.

Their range extends from the St. Laurence River down to Florida, and west to Arizona 1. They typically prefer habitats with:

  • Sandy soil (where they nest)
  • Flowering plants (for nectar)

Classification

Blue Winged Wasps belong to the Scoliidae family within the Hymenoptera order. Here’s a quick table of the relevant classification levels:

Level Blue Winged Wasp
Order Hymenoptera
Family Scoliidae
Genus Scolia
Species Scolia dubia (Blue Winged Wasp)

As part of the Scoliidae family, these wasps are solitary and beneficial for controlling beetle populations, as their larvae feed on Japanese beetle grubs and other scarab beetle larvae 3

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Mating

Blue-winged wasps have a unique mating process. During August, the males fly close to the ground searching for females to mate with.

After mating, the female starts her search for the perfect location to lay her eggs.

Laying Eggs

Scoliid wasps, including the blue-winged wasp, are parasitoid insects. They search for beetle grubs, like Japanese beetle larvae, in the soil to lay their eggs.

Female blue-winged wasps will dig a burrow to locate the grubs and paralyze them using their sting.

Once immobilized, the female wasp lays her egg directly onto the grub. This provides a ready food source for the wasp larvae once they hatch.

Larvae and Pupae

  • Wasp larvae hatch and feed on the paralyzed grubs
  • Once fully grown, the larva creates a cocoon and pupates
  • The pupal stage can last for a few weeks
  • Adults emerge from the cocoons, completing the life cycle

Blue-winged wasps and their larvae play a vital role as predators of beetle grubs in the ecosystem.

Their population keeps the number of potential pests, such as Japanese beetles, in check.

Blue-Winged Wasp Life Cycle
Eggs Laid on paralyzed grubs, providing a ready food source for hatching larvae
Larvae Hatch from eggs and feed on paralyzed grubs until fully grown
Pupae Formed within a cocoon when the larva has finished feeding; lasts a few weeks
Adult Emerge from cocoons, mate, and continue the cycle; females search for beetle grubs to lay their eggs

Though they might appear intimidating, blue-winged wasps are not considered aggressive toward humans and have a low likelihood of stinging unless provoked.

Their primary focus remains on reproducing and controlling prey populations in the soil.

File:Blue winged wasp on Melaleuca styphelioides.JPG

Source: Poyt448 Peter WoodardCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Roles in the Environment

Pollination

Adult Blue-winged wasps (Scolia dubia) are known to feed on nectar from flowers1 like Solidago, which helps them play a role in pollination.

As they visit different flowers, they aid in cross-pollination, helping plants reproduce.

Predation and Parasitism

The larvae of these wasps are predators of beetle grubs, such as the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica)2 and green June beetle.

Due to this reason, Blue-winged wasps are beneficial insects for gardens. They are also pollinators for various plants

Interactions with Humans

Stings and Safety

The Blue-winged Wasps are solitary wasps. There are some considerations regarding stings and safety when encountering these insects:

  • Their stingers are used primarily for hunting; they’re not aggressive towards humans.
  • Stings are usually a result of accidental contact or perceived threats.

Risk factors:

  • Handling or disturbing their habitat
  • Stepping on them accidentally

Safety precautions:

  • Maintain a respectful distance
  • Avoid walking barefoot in areas with known wasp populations

Encouraging Presence

To encourage the presence of these helpful wasps in your yard, consider the following:

  • Provide access to sunlight, as they prefer sunny areas
  • Plant mint, which attracts these wasps
  • Avoid overusing pesticides, which can harm these beneficial insects

File:Blue-winged wasp in BBG (42925).jpg

Source: RhododendritesCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Conclusion

The Blue Winged Wasp, with its distinctive appearance, plays a pivotal role in natural pest control, particularly against harmful beetles.

Native to the United States, these solitary wasps are not only beneficial for gardens but are also non-aggressive towards humans.

Their presence across various states showcases their adaptability and importance in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Footnotes

  1. (https://extension.psu.edu/blue-winged-wasp-scolia-dubia-is-a-real-asset) 2 3
  2. (https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/blue-winged-wasp) 2
  3. (https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-insects/solitary-wasps) 2 3
  4. (https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/blue-winged-wasp) 2
  5. (https://doh.wa.gov/community-and-environment/pests/bees-and-wasps) 2
  6. https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/blue-mud-wasp.shtml
  7. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/blue-winged-wasp
  8. https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/blue-mud-wasp.shtml

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

6 thoughts on “The Blue Winged Wasp: A Quick Dive into Its World”

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  2. can I get your Emil bugman I rile lick bugs and it wood be very useful thane you

    P.S
    I am 13 and I have so many questions thank you

    Reply

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