Currently viewing the category: "Sand Wasps"

Subject:  Large Flying insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Fairview Park Ohio
Date: 08/07/2018
Time: 02:44 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Help—what is this big flew into our school?
How you want your letter signed:  Bugman

Cicada Killer Killed at School

You are Bugman???
We really need to get on our soapbox about this identification request.  You indicate this happened at a school, but you did not indicate what kind of school.  Generally a school has students, and students are there to learn, and in our opinion, teaching the students that it is OK to kill creatures that they do not recognize is not really best practices.  Schools often teach science, and we hope this unfortunate situation with the Unnecessary Carnage of this Cicada Killer can be incorporated into your curriculum.  Cicada Killers are not aggressive wasps, and though they might sting if they are carelessly handled, we have never received a verified report with an image as proof, in the 16 years we have been responding to internet identification requests, of a Cicada Killer stinging a human, but we have received numerous examples of Cicada Killer carnage here and here and here and here and here and here and on and on, just because they are scary looking.  Cicada Killers are amazing creatures.  A female Cicada Killer stings a Cicada and paralyzes it and they drags it back to her underground nest to provide food for her brood.  For more detailed information, please refer to Cicada Mania where it states:  “I know what you are thinking: are these terrifyingly large wasps a threat to human beings? The short answer is NO. They are so focused on cicadas or other Cicada Killer Wasps, that they could care less about you. Sure, if you step on one, squeeze one in your hand, or otherwise harass the insect, it might sting you. Unlike other wasps, it will not go out of its way to harm you.” 

Hello Daniel,
Thank you for reaching back with this valuable info.
First—I didn’t know what to put on that line. Thought it was asking how we would want to receive your signature.
My apologies.
Second—I represent the summer skeleton admin staff and totally respect your response.
Alas, this poor creature was the victim of excavation connected to reconstruction of our buildings and brought to me by cleaning staff in the condition you see in the image. It was my hope to head off a mini panic by obtaining an identification. Yours is very helpful—at least if there any more Cicada Killers displaced by the bulldozers that head into the building, the staff will know these do not represent a risk to the returning children.  There has been really frightening stuff revealed from behind walls and in the ceilings—all manmade—so staff is absolutely a little jumpy.  I will admonish my colleagues and share this info with out Bio teacher. Thanks again!

Thanks for your explanation.  We imagine your administrative duties and your concern for the children and staff are a tremendous responsibility.  It just makes us so sad to see so many images of these magnificent creatures that have been killed unnecessarily just because they look scary.  Please accept our apology if we were too harsh.  Asbestos and other construction related hazards are far scarier than any Cicada Killer.


Daniel, You have a great website and perform an important service.

I am grateful for your concern for “all creatures great and small”–and even and especially those some people find scary.

I hope we can agree to have shared a so-called teachable moment.
I will tell the maintenance staff not to fear the Cicada Killers and about their nature so that, if more are turned out with this construction, they can be respected.
Going forward, I will share what transpired with our Bio and Environmental Science teachers–who are very good people.
We might have occasion to contact you again–and next time I will know to put my name in the address box, not yours.

Thank you again for being a wonderful steward of our Earth.

Our manifesto has always been to educate the web browsing public about the interconnectivity of all life on our fragile planet.

Subject:  Fly Wasp thing
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Coast California
Date: 07/19/2018
Time: 09:56 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Help ID please
How you want your letter signed:  Rebecca

Sand Wasp

Dear Rebecca,
Our editorial staff is very fond of these Sand Wasps in the genus
Bembix because in addition to being very pretty, according to BugGuide:  “Females provision their nest with flies which the larvae feed on (a single developing larva may eat more than twenty flies)” and “Provisioning is progressive. The females provide a greater number of prey over subsequent days during larval growth. Adults are excellent diggers and can disappear below the surface of loose sand within seconds.”  They are important predators that help reduce the numbers of troublesome flies that are attracted to sandy locations including beaches and campsites.

Sand Wasp

Subject:  Large wasp or hornet
Geographic location of the bug:  Denver Colorado
Date: 07/17/2018
Time: 10:39 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I work for the school district in Denver and this morning I found this girl dead in my parking lot. I’ve never seen one this big. I have more pictures but it won’t let me upload.
How you want your letter signed:  Clifford Leonard

Cicada Killer

Dear Clifford,
This impressive wasp is a Cicada Killer, a non-aggressive species that preys on Cicadas.

Subject:  Is this a Bee or other?
Geographic location of the bug:  Stratford, NJ
Date: 07/08/2018
Time: 10:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have a “large bee” type of insect, two actually that are in the same place everyday! One is burrowing in the dirt and the other sits on a tire or leaves just a few feet away? Should I be worried about this animal? Is it harmful to my children who play in the same area?
How you want your letter signed:  Robert Hammond

Cicada Killer

Dear Robert,
This is our first Cicada Killer posting of the season.  Cicada Killers are large, solitary wasps that prey on Cicadas.  The female stings and paralyzes a Cicada and then drags it to an underground nest where she lays an egg on it.  When the waspling hatches, it feeds upon the still living, paralyzed Cicada.  Cicada Killers are not aggressive toward humans.  Male Cicada Killers will defend territory, but they cannot sting, so they are perfectly harmless.  In our opinion, the Cicada Killers in your yard pose no threat to human nor pets, only to Cicadas.  People with a morbid and irrational fear of insects often subject Cicada Killers to Unnecessary Carnage.

Subject:  Wasp from Costa Rica
Geographic location of the bug:  Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limon
Date: 02/17/2018
Time: 01:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I found this wasp in the beach. I think is a kind of digger wasp or mud dauber but I would like to know exactly name.
How you want your letter signed:  Bichos

Sand Wasp

Dear Bichos,
Based on images posted to BugGuide, we feel pretty confident that this is a Sand Wasp in the tribe Bembicini, but we are not able to provide you with an exact species identification.

Subject:  Huge wasp
Geographic location of the bug:  Connecticut
Date: 09/01/2017
Time: 01:59 PM EDT
Hey there – We have some ginormous wasps from time to time in our yard. Almost hummingbird-like. I just found a dead one on our front walk (which is also a little strange, but that’s another story). No nests in sight. Any ideas what kind it is and how to take care of them?
How you want your letter signed:  Stinger

Cicada Killer

Dear Stinger,
This is a Cicada Killer, and there should be no need to “take care of them” because in all the years we have been writing What’s That Bug?, we do not have a single verified account of a person being stung.  Female Cicada Killers prey on Cicadas to feed the developing brood.