Currently viewing the category: "Wasps and Hornets"
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I have another bug for you to look at. I was at work the other day and I saw this really big wasp digging holes in the walking path. He is about 1 inch long and extremely fast. I hope you like the pics.
Ed Cogan

Hi Ed,
Looks like you killed a Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichnumoneus. They hunt katydids and nest in burrows.

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Yesterday, July 7, 2004, I was walking out of my garage with my two young sons (ages 20 mos. and 3 yrs.) and I turned my back for literally 20 seconds. My three year old comes running up to me and says his hand hurts. It looks dirty so I asked if he fell and he says, “a bug.” I asked if the bug bit him and he says no, but insists that his hand hurts. In order to distract him, I suggested that we get the mail. On walking to the mailbox, he says, “there it is!” I look to my right and see this bright red bug walking on the driveway. The bug was 3/4 inch long, I would guess, and the brightest red I have ever seen. Mostly red with black legs and, I would guess, three black stripes. I was startled and afraid as I do a lot of gardening and have never seen anything like it, so I stomped it with my shoe. I had to run an errand, but about 30 minutes later I checked my son’s hand as I was worried because the bug looked so wicked. His right thumb had swelled to about 1.5 times the size of his other thumb and was very hard/tight. It also had a white tiny pin prick in the middle of the fatty part of his thumb. I started to panic a bit, but within another half hour, the swelling started to go down and he said he was “all better.” When I got home, I started to dig for information on the internet and after two hours found your site. Part of my problem was that I thought I had seen a beetle of some sort so I typed in red bug (which came up with chiggers), red beetle (which came up with a red milkweed beetle, sort of close but not quite right) and red locust (which was definitely not what I saw). The body was segmented in three parts and I thought since it was crawling that it could not be a bee. After finding your site, I took tweezers and a white envelope and went to see if the bug parts were still in any shape to take a photo. I collected the bug and noticed it was very furry and in particular it had sort of longer legs than I had originally thought that were also furry. It was not as red as when I saw it walking, but it had been about four hours in the hot Georgia sun. I showed it to my husband when he got home and he said it looked like a wasp or hornet so I came back to your site and saw a picture of the bug I think I saw – a Velvet Ant, listed under wasps. I have become fascinated with your site since yesterday and read many clips just to learn more. Once I had a name for the bug I saw, I tried to find more information via several search engines, but with little success other than some pictures. My son seems fine now, but more of the story continues to come forth. He told me today that “the red bug was walking in the grass and (he) tried to pick it up.” Yikes! He also told me that he isn’t “supposed to touch bugs without asking Mommy because it might bite (him).” I guess maybe a good lesson for him since he is fascinated with all wildlife and touches without thinking usually. Anyway, none of the sites I could find really listed if a sting by a Velvet Ant is harmful, other than the pain. Do you know? Are they common in Georgia (we live in Forsyth County, north of Atlanta)? Do they change color (become a brighter red than normal) when they have been messed with or picked up? Are the males the same bright colors as this female was? Do you think I will see more? If I do see another one, I will try to snap a picture to send to you. After seeing your site, I felt guilty for killing it. It would have been a very good picture, I think. Thanks for your site!! Sorry for the “long version” of my story,
Stephanie Moore
PS. I saw an email by Eric Eaton referring to as a good source for info. In this case, it was not very helpful for me (I am a bug idiot, more or less). Although, I did see that some of the pictures of the Velvet Ant that were posted were taken in Georgia, which answers that question I guess.

Hi Stephanie,
Velvet Ants are female flightless wasps. The males are smaller and have wings. There are many species of Velvet Ants, and some are bright red, others orange and still others yellow. The sting is painful, but not serious unless there is an alergic reaction. I love the name Cow Killer for the species Dasymutilla occidentalis, which is common in the South. Perhaps another websearch with the scientific name will give you additional information. I am very happy our site was helpful.

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Giant Ichneumon
I found this wasp name while searching your web site for pictures to identify a "bug". Now I cannot sleep until I know more about this wasp….if of course I have identified it correctly. You called it a "Giant Ichneumon" in response to an email sent to you by someone else. I think I have one under a glass in my family room….too afraid to move it. I have 3 kids and a dog. This wasp has a black skinny "tail" that is at least 2 inches long and 6 legs that are orange/yellowish and a long skinny body. Did I mention the long antennas? When I look up Ichneumon as a general web search…I don’t get to far with any additional info. What do I do with it and are there many more lurking about? AAaaaghhhh! We live in the pacific northwest. Thanks for any info. I did take pics and will send one on if you need to see it. Thank you in advance,
R. Frances

Dear R. Frances,
Though they are wasps, Giant Ichneumons do not sting. That is an ovipositor for laying eggs deep inside trees where the larvae hunt wood borers. They are beneficial insects for that reason. Try doing a search for the scientific name Megarhyssa atrata for more information.

Photos of Megarhyssa nortoni
Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your quick response….here are 6 lovely photos of the Megarhyssa atrata or Giant Ichneumon. So glad to hear that the tail is not the stinger!! And you will be glad to note my husband released her this morning to the outside. Kinda curious where they are originally found as I have lived in the Seattle area for 30 years and have not seen one here before. Thanks Daniel!
R. Frances

Hi again R. Frances,
After seeing your photos, we can agree they are an Ichneumon of some sort, but the coloring seems a little off for Megarhyssa atrata, though it could be a local variation.
Ed. Note: (09/06/2004) Eric just wrote in identifying this as Megarhyssa nortoni.

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Hi. I wonder if you could let me know what these are, I live in the UK, and have looked up several books and Web sites but can’t seem to find them.

Hi Eric,
It is a species of Ichneumon Wasp. They usually parasitize caterpillars among other insects

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Photo of strange tubular insect home
My fiance has recently moved from Michigan to Noth Carolina. It is amazing how many more bugs live in a sub-tropical climate! Anyhow, she is terrified of these nests she has founbd on her new deck. Can you identufy these nests? Is this something she needs to be aware of or something that presents a possible danger? Thanks for the help,
Charles W. Nivison

Hi Charles,
What a very large photo of a very large ceiling with a little Mud Dauber Nest in the center. These are solitary wasps that build nests of mud and fill them with paralyzed spiders, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, flies or other insects that serve as food for the young. Each species of wasp has a very specific food source. The wasps can sting, but will only do so if provoked, by say, a broom knocking down their nest.
Ed. Note: (09/06/2004) Eric just wrote in identifying the species as the Organ Pipe Mud Dauber, Trypoxylon politum, and informed us they prey on spides only.

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One of our readers sent this photo of a spider wasp dragging its prey, a large what appears to be a Wolf Spider, Lycosa rabida, to its nest. Sadly, we have lost her original letter.
Ed. Note: (09/06/2004) Eric just wrote in and gave us an identification on both creatures. Spider wasp is Tachypompilus ferrugineous, and Wolf Spider is Rabidocosa rabida

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination