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!!
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!
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.
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 InsectIdentification.org: “”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.