Currently viewing the category: "Crabronid Wasps"

Subject:  What is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Manchester, Michigan
Date: 09/28/2021
Time: 09:21 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this scary looking bug in my garage this morning.  About 3 inches long.
How you want your letter signed:  Sue

Toe-Biter

Dear Sue,
This is an aquatic predatory True Bug known as a Giant Water Bug, and it is generally found not far from a source of water.  Toe-Biter is a common name because of the large number of swimmers and waders who have been bitten while in the water.  Because they are attracted to electric lights, often in great numbers, they are also called Electric Light Bugs.

Thank you for answering on the water bug.  I had never seen one before.  Scary looking.

Subject:  Which wasp is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  SW Missouri
Date: 09/23/2021
Time: 07:18 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I noticed this wasp in some goldenrod this past afternoon.  I did not recognize it.
Can you help identify it, please?
How you want your letter signed:  Dave

Sand Wasp: Stizus brevipennis

Dear Dave,
At first we mistook this for an Eastern Cicada Killer, but the white markings on the abdomen did not seem right.  Upon researching the Eastern Cicada Killer on the Missouri Department of Conservation site, we realized this was a similar looking Sand Wasp,
Stizus brevipennis.  According to BugGuide which has a visual comparison between the two species:  “This species looks superficially quite like Sphecius speciosus (the eastern cicada-killer wasp), but the abdominal banding is much less ‘ornate’. These markings lack a hooked structure and are overall broader and smoother. The scutellum and postscutellum are also marked in yellow, unlike in S. speciosus.”  This is a new species for our humble website and for that we are grateful to you, however, considering how similar these two species look and considering the large number of Eastern Cicada Killer postings on our site, we suspect that one or more might actually be misidentified Stizus brevipennis.  Also, your individual is nectaring on goldenrod, a very important plant to many species of insects, and we are tagging it as Goldenrod Meadow as well.

Subject:  bee type  bug
Geographic location of the bug: Halifax, MA
Date: 07/29/2021
Time: 12:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  makes in ground nest every year like an ant hole about a 1/2 inch.
Sandy soil, most nest are by driveway edge a patio edge
How you want your letter signed:  Tony

Sand Wasp

Dear Tony,
This looks like a Sand Wasp in the Tribe Bembicini, and the activity you describe is consistent with Sand Wasps.  Alas, we cannot provide a species identification.  According to BugGuide:  “About three quarters of the species prey on Diptera (Flies including disease carrying House Flies found around garbage), and it is believed that fly predation is ancestral in the group” which makes them beneficial.  Sand Wasps are not aggressive and the chances of getting stung are very unlikely.

Subject:  Unidentified bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Bryn Mawr, PA
Date: 07/21/2021
Time: 11:04 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We couldn’t figure out what this is? It is always coming to the same spot and stay on the same leaf of our pepper plant almost all day long.
Thank you:  How you want your letter signed:  Gozde Ayaz

Cicada Killer

Dear Gozde,
This magnificent solitary Wasp is a Cicada Killer.  Because of their large size, Cicada Killers often fall victim to Unnecessary Carnage at the hands of folks that kill things that they fear.

Subject:  Bee/wasp-like insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Kingston, NJ
Date: 08/17/2019
Time: 04:58 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  In the last week these bees have appeared in an area of our yard that is very dry with browned grass. All of a sudden they have bored holes in the ground with mounds of dirt around them. These bees are larger than most, seem non-aggressive but are wrecking the area around our patio. Today I noticed them attempting to move some dead cicadas towards the openings. Is there a way to rid the area of the bees(don’t want to kill them) and get them to relocate? We have lived here for 40 years and have never seen any bees like these? I would welcome all info.
How you want your letter signed:  Beelover, Liz

Cicada Killer

Dear Beelover Liz,
This is not a bee.  The Cicada Killer is a species of solitary Wasp that has a life cycle that lasts a year.  Upon emergence in early summer, a female Cicada Killer mates and then spends several weeks hunting Cicadas to provision an underground nest with food for her brood.  The larvae feed on the paralyzed, but still living Cicadas, and then pupate, emerging in early summer to begin the cycle again.  You will only be “troubled” by their digging for a short time longer.  We are having a hard time believing you discovered that trove of Cicadas on your walk.  We suspect they might have been excavated, destroying the underground nest along with a future generation of Cicada Killers.

A Trove of Paralyzed Cicadas

 

Subject:  Sooooo BIG
Geographic location of the bug:  Titusville, NJ (Central NJ)
Date: 08/07/2019
Time: 07:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
My husband caught this massive hornet-type thing around 2:30 pm. It was sunny, hot/humid, and right before a storm. It flew into our sunporch. What is it? Does it sting?
How you want your letter signed:  Worried Mama

Cicada Killer

Dear Worried Mama,
This is a Cicada Killer, a solitary wasp that is not considered aggressive.  Social Wasps will often sting to protect the nest, but female Cicada Killers use the stinger to paralyze Cicadas to provide food for her brood.  Since your inquiry includes the information that your “husband caught” this Cicada Killer, and since it looks quite dead in your image, we are surmising that it was killed in the capture process.  Cicada Killers are not aggressive, and though they are large and scary, they do not tend to bother people and stings would be a very rare occurrence that would probably only happen if a living Cicada Killer was carelessly handled.  We have countless incidents on our site of Cicada Killers succumbing to Unnecessary Carnage.

Thank you for your quick reply! It was actually alive when he caught it, but I have begun collecting and mounting specimens that I find (it was dead in the photo – I froze it to kill it quickly and keep it intact for display). When I encountered it, it seemed aggressive, but since it was in a 15×10 room perhaps it was only looking for an exit..? Now that I know what it is, if I encounter another again I will not be quick with a kill.
Could you tell from the photo if it was male or female? I like to include as much information as possible with my specimens. …
Thank you again!!!
Amber Wilno (worried mama)

Hi Amber,
We are untagging the Unnecessary Carnage designation we originally attached to this posting.  A large Wasp trapped in a small room likely appears quite intimidating when it is buzzing and striking against the glass window panes.  We apologize, but we do not feel confident sexing your individual.  We did try to research how to distinguish the sexes, and though we did not locate an easy reference, we do like this information we found on the University of Kentucky Entomology page:  “Are cicada killers dangerous? Females have significant stingers which they plunge into cicadas to inject venom that paralyzes them. Without doubt, their stings are painful. However, they are not aggressive and do not have nest-guarding instinct of honey bees and hornets. You can walk through areas where they are active without attracting attention.

The buzzing noise that the wasps make and the warning colors on their wings and bodies intimidate and discourage predators that see them as a large meal. When attacked, females will use their stinger to protect themselves. 
Males lack stingers but are territorial. They will approach anything that enters “their area”, including walkers, people mowing or using weed-eaters, or riding tractors. They may hover and challenge trespassers but are harmless. That can be easy to forget when staring down a big wasp.”