Currently viewing the category: "Sand Wasps"

Subject: Is this a cicada killer?
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
July 2, 2016 1:02 pm
Started off with one in the wall by my driveway and now there are dozens flying around. It is a duck wall with dirt. They dig into the wall and hang out around the wall during the day”fighting” eachother. What are they? Yellow jackets, hornets, some other singing bug?
Thanks, want to get rid of them if they attack since have small kids who miss riding their bikes in the driveway.
Signature: Jenngi

Cicada Killer Carnage

Cicada Killer Carnage

Dear Jenngi,
Though male Cicada Killer wasps are quite territorial, they are incapable of stinging. They are very specific about preying upon Cicadas. Female Cicada Killer wasps are not aggressive, and we have yet to receive a report from someone being stung by a Cicada Killer.  In our opinion, they do not pose a threat to your children.  This is our first reported Cicada Killer sighting of the year and we are saddened that it is a dead individual.  We would urge you to educate your children about the natural world around them so that they can appreciate and respect the lower beasts.

Thank you for your quick reply. Now we can watch these awesome creatures, have about 15 now, without the fear of multiple settings. It is a relief to hear that these are not aggressive stinging wasps or hornets and will not be creating a nest of thousands so close to our entry into the house and where we play. The kids love and respect all creatures big and small. We strive to live in peace with creatures. Thank you again for the reply.

Thanks for getting back to us Jenngi.  As further clarification, only social wasps like hornets, yellow jackets and paper wasps will defend a nest by stinging.  Solitary wasps like Cicada Killers do not defend the nest.  Though they sometimes nest in colonies where soil conditions and hunting prospects are ideal, Cicada Killers are solitary wasps.  Again, male Cicada Killers will defend territory, especially against other male Cicada Killers, but only females have a stinger which is used to paralyze Cicadas to act as food for the developing young.  Cicada Killers appear in the summer and the larvae that are developing in the subterranean nest will not emerge until the subsequent summer.  Cicada Killers females are capable of stinging, but we believe this will only occur if they are handled.

Subject: Cicada Killer life
July 2, 2016 6:44 pm
How long are cicada killers active? First one appeared about a week ago and now there are about 15-20 in the wall right by my driveway. Are they out  all summer? Also do they kill bumblebees too?
Signature: Jenngi

Cicada Killers do NOT prey on Bumble Bees.  You should expect activity for about four to six weeks, during which time females will hunt Cicadas to provision the nest for the developing young.

Subject: Hornet?
Location: Massachusetts, USA
October 11, 2015 5:29 pm
Hi, I’ve seen this strange hornet-like bug in my backyard a couple times over the summer when I went to mow my lawn. It makes a buzzing noise like any bee-like creature when it flies, but it doesn’t look particularly like a bee or hornet. The eyes also resemble those of a grasshopper.
Signature: -J

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Dear J,
This is very late in the year for a Cicada Killer sighting, so we suspect the image was taken this summer.  Cicada Killers are not aggressive, but they might sting, but only if carelessly handled.  The female Cicada Killer provisions her subterranean nest with paralyzed Cicadas.

Subject: bug identification
Location: Grand Junction, Co
August 9, 2015 5:17 pm
Just wanted to know the correct name of this bug. On the ground at Lands End, on the Grand Mesa, Grand Junction Colorado. During mid July, did not seem to be aggressive.
Signature: Paul Huntington

Sand Wasp

Sand Wasp

Dear Paul,
This little beauty is a female Sand Wasp in the tribe Bembicini, but we were not able to match your images to a species on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “About three quarters of the species prey on Diptera, and it is believed that fly predation is ancestral in the group; the rest prey on Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Neuroptera, Odonata, and/or Homoptera.”  The female provisions the underground nest with prey for the developing brood to feed upon, and as BugGuide states, most Sand Wasps prey upon flies.

Sand Wasp

Sand Wasp

Subject: Identify Wasps
Location: South Central MN
July 30, 2015 7:54 am
Since 2013 I’ve been caring for a large rain garden on Faribault County, MN. The pollinators have been late to return, but now I have several of them and of large size, too. I took some photos yesterday and include three below, which to my untrained eye look like wasps. They have never gone after me, even when I’ve been working in the garden, preferring instead to to move from blossom to blossom.
Image 1 is pictured on the leaf of an achemilla plant. I rarely see this wasp, so for me this was a lucky shot.
Image 2 was a surprise close-up. It looks very much like Image 3 along the abdomen but the head is different in color and markings. To my eye the antennae also differ.
Image 8196 is the most common in my garden. These vary in size from small to as big as my pinky. Right now they are in the large range, approaching thumb size. They are are hefty in weight; blossoms droop when they land on them. They seem to favor milkweed and ratibida (yellow coneflower).
There are a couple others I see now and again, such as the the Great Black and a red version of same with black tip on base of abdomen.
Then there’s one with long legs that trail in flight, though I’ve not been able to capture a photo. Again, I feel safe enough in my garden; I do my weeding thing and they do their thing on the blossoms. I wear a hat and long sleeves with gloves, which I think helps.
Can you identify them? Are they native or exotic?
Thank you.
Signature: Wanda J. Kothlow

Unknown Wasp

Potter Wasp

Goodness Wanda,
There are at least ten times more words in your request than in most of the phrases we generally receive.  We miss the chatty identification requests from days gone by before everyone was able to connect to the internet with cellular telephones and people began to forget how to write.  Your first Wasp is not something we immediately recognize, though we suspect it is a Potter or Mason Wasp.  It looks very similar to this 
Ancistrocerus adiabatus posted to BugGuide.

Paper Wasp

Paper Wasp

Your second Wasp is a Paper Wasp in the genus Polistes, and a quick glance at BugGuide has us believing it is the Northern Paper Wasp,  Polistes fuscatus.  According to BugGuide:  “Adult P. fuscatus feed mainly on plant nectar. The species is considered insectivorous because it kills caterpillars and other small insects in order to provide food for developing larvae. Foragers collect various prey insects to feed to the larvae. The wasp then malaxates, or softens the food and in doing so absorbs most of the liquid in the food. This solid portion is given to older larvae and the liquid is regurgitated to be fed to younger larvae. (Turillazzi and West-Eberhard, 1996)”

Cicada Killer

Cicada Killer

Your hefty behemoth is a magnificent Cicada Killer, and your indication that there is a significant population of them indicates a ready food supply for the larvae.  Female Cicada Killers sting and paralyze Cicadas to provision an underground nest.  There is one generation per year and where they are found, Cicada Killers make seasonal appearances.  None of your wasps are considered aggressive.  Thanks again for your entertaining submission.  Your rain garden sounds like it has a very healthy ecosystem.

Subject: A beautiful type of wasp?
Location: Phoenix arizona
July 28, 2015 6:02 pm
I found this awesome little dude in my laundry room and I’m dying to know what they are.
Signature: Brooke c

Western Cicada Killer

Western Cicada Killer

Dear Brooke,
This positively gorgeous wasp is a Western Cicada Killer,
Specius grandis.  Though Cicada Killers are not aggressive and we have not gotten any legitimate documentation of a person being stung by a Cicada Killer, the possibility does exist and we imagine a person might be stung if carelessly handling a Cicada Killer.  We get many more identification requests for the Eastern Cicada Killer, and images of Western Cicada Killers are not too common in our archives.

Subject: What is this bug
Location: Lake Kiowa, TX
July 4, 2015 4:20 pm
Hi Bugman!
My kids & I are visiting north Texas and we came across this extremely large flying bug. I’m including 2 pics, one for scale.
Signature: Curious Traveller

Deceased Cicada Killer

Deceased Cicada Killer

Dear Curious Traveller [sic],
This magnificent Cicada Killer looks quite dead and we can’t help but to wonder what happened during your encounter to take it from being an “extremely large flying bug” to one that will fly no more.  Cicada Killers are not aggressive and we have never received an authenticated account of a person being stung by a Cicada Killer.

Thanks for the response. My youngest daughter was in my parents’ backyard playing frisbee with her cousins when the cicada killer was spotted. She ran in to get me (terrified), and by the time I got out there, one of her cousins had killed it.
Thank you for your help identifying it. We are better informed now!