Currently viewing the category: "Crabronid Wasps"

Some kind of hornet
I killed this hornet in the waiting area of an auto repair shop this afternoon in downtown Durham, NC. It seemed to have flown in and couldn’t get back out. I was more than happy to "help" it. Below is a description and attached are 3 pics for identification.
Full length (eyes to stinger = 37cm)
Abdomen widest width = 8.5mm
Thorax widest widthwidth 9mm
Wingspan = 63mm
Antennae = 13mm each
The eyes are large and brown. The face between the eyes is yellow with some brown on it. The antennae are made of small segments and gets slightly thicker toward the end, before tapering right at the tips. They are black. All 6 legs are kinda "spikey" like a roach or locust. at the 2nd joint of the hindmost legs there are 2 small appendages which look like small pinchers connected at the joint and proturding toward the feet Thorax is very dark brown and medium dark brown. Thorax is also a bit fuzzy near the abdomen There are 2 longer outer wings and 2 shorter inner/under wings. Abdomen seems to have 6 "sections". The 1st section from the thorax has 2 yellow markings. The 2nd section has 2 yellow markings on the back, 2 small ones on the sides and 2 small spots on the underside. The 3rd section has 2 yellow markings on the back. The last three are solid black.
I made a very detailed description as the photos from my SonyEricsson T616 cellphone camera aren’t that great. I searched quite a few sites for this formidable looking fellow but came up empty-handed. Hope you can help. Thanks 🙂
Very Sincerely,
Scott Walton

Hi Scott,
You have a Cicada Killer Wasp, Specius speciosus. According to the Golden Guide of Insects: “This large solitary wasp digs a burrow a foot or so deep. In side passages the female stores adult cicadas which she has paralyzed by stinging. The heavy cicadas are dragged up a tree by the killer till she can get enough altitude to fly back to her burrow. When the egg hatches, the lrva feedes on the helpless cicada. In a week it is full grown and pupates in a loose cocoon. It emerges the following summer, completing its life cycle.” Though your photos are blurry, we are thrilled to have them.

Dear Mr. Bugman,
I live in northern Connecticut. Yesterday morning I noticed from a distance what I
initially thought was a dragonfly over my lawn. Upon closer inspection, I was totally amazed by something I have never in my life seen before. It looked like a GIANT yellow jacket. It was 4 1/2 to 5 inches long. The abdomen on it was black with bright yellow stripes and shiny, just like a yellow jacket. It flew around close to the ground for a few seconds, then disappeared into a hole in the ground about 1 1/2 to 2 cm. wide. I noticed quite a bit of dirt thrown around the outside of the hole, apparently from it digging its nest out. It wasn’t aggressive, as when the dog tried to sniff at it (I pulled him back in a hurry!) it just kept looking for its nest. I do keep honeybees within 30 feet of where this thing is making its home, and I’m hoping whatever it is, it is no threat to them as real yellow jackets are. Any information you can provide will be sincerely appreciated.

Sounds like a Cicada Killer, Sphecius speciosus, a large (though not as large as you indicate) solitary wasp that preys on cicadas and burrows in the ground. It will not harm the bees.

My name is Andrew Gable. I have a question to ask about the possible identification of an apparent bee or wasp I saw. In October-November of the year (can’t remember the exact time, but approximately 1997 or ’98), while attending Lock Haven University in northern Pennsylvania, I saw a strange insect lying on the ground. I rememebr it was quite late in the year, and I thought it was awfully cool out to be seeing a bug of any sort. The insect appeared to resemble a yellow jacket or wasp, and had the typical yellow-and-black pattern though it was quite large (approximately an inch and a half to two inches in length). Its abdomen and thorax appeared somewhat flattened, though whether this was due to injury or natural appearance I can’t be certain. It didn’t appear injured, however. It was winged (its wings were long, and ‘clear’ like a fly’s). It also appeared to be somewhat glossy. It was, to the best of my judgment, near death. There was a vacant lot nearby, as well as a fairly large garden, so I don’t discount the possibility that it could have been a burrowing insect of some sort (I believe many of the stinging insects live in burrows).
When I returned via the same path fifteen or twenty minutes later, the insect was gone, and I can only assume that it somehow found the strength to fly off. I’ve often tried to determine what this thing may have been to no avail, and would appreciate any help.
Thanks in advance.
Andrew D. Gable

We suspect Andrew saw a Ci cada Killer, and his measurements were closer to the actual size, a thing many of our readers tend to exaggerate.

I’d love info on these delightful little visitors as we seem to have a family who lives/visits our yard every spring. I cannot leave the house.

Hi Annie,
The Cicada Killers, Specius speciosus and Sphecius grandis, are large solitary wasps that often live in colonies, hence your comment about the family situation. They produce one generation a year, and you are being visited by the offspring of the previous year’s visitors. The wasps are large, nearly 1 2/3 inches in body length, with a much larger wingspan, and they feed on nectar and pollen. Mating males are sometimes aggressive, and females will deliver a nasty sting if provoked. It is the female who kills the cicadas. She hunts for them on tree trunks after digging a burrow. She stings the cicada, paralyzing it, then flies back to her burrow with the now immobile, yet living food source for her brood. Each burrow contains one or two cicadas, and when the solitary egg hatches, the larva has a fresh food supply.
Ckeck out the Cicada Killer Thriller Page at /thriller/thriller.htm

Thank you so much!! My exterminator was totally clueless (so I had to capture one and look online to find out about it – that’s how I knew it’s name) but I’ve now that I’ve seen them in my yard I’ve seen them around a lot more – don’t know if it’s a case of knowing what I’m looking for or if they’re really settling in around South Orange, NJ, but I do appreciate your great information on them. Poor cicadas – darn that must hurt! I’d noticed how aggressive the males are – especially if you fill up their burrow and they can’t get back in ;)Best,
Annie Modesitt
Craft Writer / Knitting Designer
South Orange, NJ