Currently viewing the category: "Crabronid Wasps"

Subject: Strange Flying Insect, Dangerous?
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
July 29, 2017 8:21 pm
I was visiting Culver’s with my family and my son, we we’re having a nice time dining indoors. I’d gone outside for a smoke break with my mum, when we noticed these large, frightening looking insects flying about. Due to the fact that my father is allergic and there is the possibility that i may be myself (i’ve never been stung), it caused me a significant amount of concern. Though my curiousity seemed to override that as i Had to snap a picture of one. I’ve never seen it before.
Signature: With Great Interest, Kara

Cicada Killer

Dear Kara,
This is one of our favorite summer identification requests, the impressive Cicada Killer.  Male Cicada Killers act defensive and they are territorial, guarding good nesting areas in the hopes a female will arrive.  Male Cicada Killers are perfectly harmless as they do not have stingers.  Female Cicada Killers are not aggressive, and though they have the ability to sting, we cannot confirm anyone actually being stung.  Female Cicada Killers use the stinger to paralyze Cicadas that are dragged back to the burrow to serve as a live food for the developing brood.

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. We had not expected it to be harmless what-so-ever, it’s such a large bug (though i suppose it would only make sense as cicadas are larger bug themselves). Thank you again.

Subject: Flying bee- or hornet-like insect
Location: Pennsylvania (Philadelphia suburbs)
July 21, 2017 6:48 am
These bugs (2-3) fly around my front lawn during the day. They don’t seem aggressive; I just typically walk trough them if they’re flying in my path. They are rather large and bigger (and probably less segmented) than a bee or hornet would be.
Signature: Ken

Cicada Killer

Dear Ken,
This large wasp is a Cicada Killer, and your submission is our first report of the season.  People fear Cicada Killers because of their size and behavior.  Male Cicada Killers are harmless as they cannot sting, but they will patrol an area favorable for nesting and chase other creatures away.  Female Cicada Killers sting and paralyze Cicadas to feed the larva that develop in underground burrows.  Though they are capable of stinging, the female Cicada Killer is not aggressive and she does not defend her nest. 

Subject: Bee or Fly?
Location: Swansboro, NC
May 21, 2017 3:56 pm
Is it a bee or a fly? I thought maybe a hoverfly? I’m at a loss. My friend took the picture in her yard.
Signature: Miss Sheila

Horse Guard Wasp, we believe

Dear Miss Sheila,
This critter has four wings, so it is definitely NOT a fly.  We believe it is a Sand Wasp as the abdominal markings remind us a bit of a Cicada Killer.  The closest match we could find is a Horse Guard Wasp,
Stictia carolina, but as you can see by comparing your image to this BugGuide image, that is not exact.  We will contact Eric Eaton for assistance.  Based on this BugGuide image, we now believe the Horse Guard Wasp might be correct, but the abdominal markings seem to vary.  Eric Eaton is quoted on BugGuide as stating:  “a really big sand wasp (just behind the cicada killer). They get their name by hanging out around equines and pouncing on tabanids which they paralyze and stuff into their burrows for their offspring.”  Also according to BugGuide:  “‘The horse-guard (Monedula carolina Drury), a predaceous wasp, is among the more important checks on the horsefly. These wasps lay their eggs in burrows and watch over them until they hatch. As soon as larvae appear, the wasps supply them with food, which consists of horsefly adults. The wasp frequents pastures where they pick the flies off the molested horses and cattle and carry them to their nests.’ — Bernard Segal, Synopsis of the Tabanidæ of New York, Their Biology and Taxonomy: I. The Genus Chrysops Meigen, Journal of the New York Entomological Society 44(1):51-78 (1936).”

Subject: Scarab Hunter or Digger Wasp ID
Location: n. of Phoenix AZ @ Ben Avery Shooting Facility
April 9, 2017 6:09 pm
We wouldn’t have noticed this small critter except for the extremely active, almost demented, way it was scurrying around on the ground in no particular pattern. We didn’t see any others at any time during the week we were there. I tentatively identified it as some sort of digger wasp but your site offers a similar photo and identifies it as a scarab hunter wasp. The eyes in this appear quite blue, which doesn’t seem to match anything but perhaps that’s just a trick of the spring light (3/26/2017) in the unusually lush AZ desert. Thanks for any help in pinning down (painlessly, of course) an identification for this colorful creature…as well as all the enjoyment we get from your site along the way.
Signature: Anne J

Dryudella Bug Hunter Wasp

Dear Anne J,
We love your image.  We believe we have correctly identified it as a
Dryudella species thanks to this BugGuide image.  This little Wasp is in the family Crabronidae, which also includes Sand Wasps, including massive Cicada Killers, while Scarab Hunters are in the family Scoliidae.  Many Crabronids prey upon members of the order Homoptera, and it seems this little beauty is no exception.  According to BugGuide:  “Prey: boxelder bug instars / Foothills species: stinkbug instars”  which should make folks who are troubled by Boxelder Bugs and Stink Bugs quite happy.  Because of its typical prey and because this genus does not appear to have a common name, we are promoting “Bug Hunter Wasp” as a fitting appellation.

Thank you so much!  It does indeed look like the Dryudella photo on your link….right down to the description of the blue eyes.  Now I just have to wonder what it’s prey was since we saw nary a boxelder bug nor stink bug while there.  Of course, that doesn’t mean they weren’t there in the creosote and sunflowers.
We did see Arizona Blister Beetles and have a few decent photos.  A quick search on bug guide didn’t bring them up but I’ll check later and if I don’t find them there already, I’ll load them.  Use the same query form?
Thanks again, Anne & Wayne

Yes, please use our standard form for each new submission.

Subject: What are these?
Location: Delaware
April 3, 2017 5:05 pm
Help please. I suspect these are mud dauber, but everyday 2 to 4 of these show up on my sliding glass doors. Not sure where they are coming from but want to make sure I don’t have a problem with something else.
Signature: Thanks

Aphid Wasp

We did not recognize your Wasp, and could not locate it in the Thread-Waist Wasp family Specidae, so we contacted Eric Eaton.

Eric Eaton Responds
This is a solitary wasp in the family Crabronidae, tribe Psenini.  They prey on leafhoppers if I am not mistaken, to provide food for their offspring.

Based on Eric Eaton’s response, we learned that the subfamily Pemphredoninae  which contains the tribe Psenini are known as Aphid Wasps.  On BugGuide, the tribe Psenini are described as “Slender, with a distinctly petiolate abdomen.”  That petiolate abdomen is the reason we originally suspected the family Specidae.  Aphid Wasps is a new category for our site.

Subject: Wasp ID and damage?
Location: North East NJ
September 4, 2016 9:49 pm
Hi Bugman, love the site, always informative and always entertaining. I cam across this wasp today. At first I thought perhaps it was a sand wasp and the protrusion on its face would help it dig, but the more I did research, the more I think it was some type of damage it received, (Not from me!)
Any idea of ID and if this was inflicted damage or a weird clypeus perhaps?
Signature: Thank you!!

Unknown Wasp with unusual Clypeus

Weevil Wasp with unusual Clypeus

Do you have any other images of this individual?  Perhaps a shot of the entire insect and a dorsal view?

Hi and thanks for the response!  I have two other shots, all from the side. I could not get a front shot due to the leaf and I did not want to disturb the wasp. Not knowing what type it was, I didn’t know it’s aggressiveness or habits. I will say the wasp was alive and did move slightly but not much at all for as close as I was. Perhaps dying? I could not find any other damage, or distinguishing features. I hope I attached the photos correctly. Thank you again!

Wasp with unusual Clypeus

Weevil Wasp with unusual Clypeus

Thanks for sending additional images.  We wanted to get an idea of the entire body structure of this unusual Hymenopteran.  Though we have searched for some time, including using the word “cowcatcher” to describe what appears to be an unusually structured clypeus, which we needed to look up on BugGuide, we have not had any luck locating anything similar looking.  We do not believe any damage or injury is evident.  The symmetry is too perfect.  We have written to Eric Eaton for assistance.  We are posting your submission and tagging it as unidentified and we hope to get back to you soon with an identification.

Wasp with unusual Clypeus

Weevil Wasp with unusual Clypeus

You rock! And I didn’t get intellectual enough to try ”Cowcatcher”. I did however try bee horn or wasp snout.  ? Thank you for all your help. I love a mystery and your help is very appreciated. I also wondered if there was some kind of parasite that crawled out of there.

Eric Eaton Responds
It is a species of Cerceris.  The females hunt weevils or jewel beetles as food for their larval offspring.

Ed Note:  Though Eric Eaton has provided us with the genus name Cerceris for the Weevil Wasps, we have not been able to verify a species identity based on the images posted to BugGuide which notes:  “The faces of females are modified with unusual projections on the clypeus and clypeal margin.”  BugGuide also indicates:  “Most Cerceris species prey on adult beetles, but some also prey on bees and wasps. At least one species, C. halone, preys exclusively on acorn weevils (Curculio nasicus).”  According to  “”Members of the genus Cerceris are hunters and gatherers of weevils and other beetles.  Females dig nests in the ground along roads or in areas with loose sand or soil like basevall fields, parks and beaches.  They compact the material and create cells where they lay a fertilized egg.  They fly off, in search of future food for their larvae.  Female Weevil Wasps bite their prey and paralyze them.  The weevil or beetle is then brought back to the nest and stuffed inside a cell where they will remain paralyzed.  A hatching wasp larva will immediately begin feeding on the living, paralyzed weevil or beetle.  Once the wasp has grown, it will pupate into its adult form and leave the nest.  This BugGuide image looks close, but it is not identified to the species level.  After finding this BugGuide image, we are going to speculate this is Cerceris clypeata.