Currently viewing the category: "Wasps and Hornets"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Today, in a mixed evergreen/maple urban forest in Vancouver, BC, we found a wasps nest we could not identify. It was about 12 feet up in a maple tree, hanging from the trunk where a branch joined. The nest was a brownish color, and looked more like a growth on the tree than the usual greyish nests we see around here. It was about the size of a medium cabbage. Cabbage comes to mind, because instead of a spiral or concentric layers of paper, this one seemed to be formed of overlapping rounded leaves, like a cabbage. It was quite smooth, and completely closed in. We could not find the hole, but it seemed that the wasps were coming out of the junction between the trunk and the nest. The wasps themselves were blackish, and looked almost like ants at that distance. They were mostly crawling on the nest, occasionally flying a foot or two away and returning.
What have we found?

Sounds like a Hornet’s Nest, Bald Faced Hornet, Vespula maculata, probably.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Please help Identify a bug that we saw at our home in Rocklin, California (Sacramento area) today. It was about 2" long, blue metallic looking – looked like some kind of huge wasp or hornet that that was carrying a huge dead cricket. It flew also. My husband has spotted about 10 over the last few weeks around our yard. I’d like to know what it is, to know if it can sting my kids. If you have any ideas, we would be eager to know what this is.
Thanks a lot,

Dear Mary,
It’s Probably a Blue Mud Wasp, Chalybion californicum, which generally preys upon spiders, but crickets will do. They can sting, but are not aggressive. They are solitary wasps that nest in abandoned Mud Dauber homes or simple crevasses.

Thank you so much. My 9 year old daughter was freaking out when we saw it – I don’t think it helped that it was carrying a huge cricket! I just looked up a picture on the web, and it sure looks like what we saw. Thank you "Bugman".

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

It has been raining for days and the leaves toward the bottom of my tomato plants are starting to look yellow. Then I saw what I thought were tiny little white bugs and figured I could just pluck them off. Much to my surprise they were part of, or attached to, a very large slug like creature that had suction cupped itself to the plant. What the heck is it, or are they? What can I do to get rid of it? I also found a smaller orange like slug that I smushed. Again, what is it and what do I do about it? And then, because things come in threes, I found droppings, on the leaves, that were the size of a small childs fingernail bed. hard to tell if it is bird poop or otherwise. This is the first time I am growing vegetables and these plants were hand cultivated by good friends. I want to make sure I do the right thing…too embarrassing to let their hard work, and mine, go to the bugs.
Please help.
Many thanks!
Risa Hochroth

Dear Risa,
I wish you had sent a photo. The tiny white bugs you found were doing your job for you. It is perfect bio-warfare. They are the pupae of a type of parasitic Braconid wasp. The female wasp lays her eggs inside (using an ovipositor) the larva of a tomato hornworm, a common pest on tomatoes. It is the green sluglike creature you found. The larvae of the wasp eat the hornworm inside out, then pupate on the outside, the stage you discovered. The caterpillar then dies and the wasps mature and begin a new cycle. The Tomato Hornworm >is the caterpillar of a large moth, Manduca sexta or Manduca quinquemaculata. The larvae are identified by the horn at the posterior end and they attain a length of four or more inches and a girth equal to a human finger before burying into the ground to pupate. While in the caterpillar form, they can defoliate entire branches of a tomato plant as well as nibbling on the still green tomatoes.

Thank you.
So, if I have handpicked the two I saw, what should I do to prevent others from appearing and destroying the plant. I assume if there were 2 there are more, yes? I sprayed insecticidal soap on the foliage, but I am wondering if there is more I should do other than just keep looking for them and handpicking them off. On the web I read that I should not have killed the hornworm with the wasps, which is consistent with what you have said, but should I have left it there to have the wasps potentially kill other worms. I thought leaving them would just give them more time to eat the foliage and the tomatoes that they have already munched on. Also, once I harvest the last tomatoes, isthere anything I need to do to the soil to make sure that they are not going to be there next year?
Risa Hochroth

Hand picking is, in our opinion, the best means of control. Watch for the telltale signs, nibbled leaves and droppings, then search for the grazer. You can sift through the soil to locate the large pupae, but adults can just fly in and lay eggs. A dilligent eye is the best form of control since we do not endorse undue use of pesticides in the garden, especially on produce meant for human consumption.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I work at a garden store in South-eastern Wisconsin, and recently I caught some type of what I think is a wasp, ITs all black exept for yellow legs, its abdoman is very narrow at first and strechtes into somthing similar to a mud wasp exept it is much bigger. The strangest thing about this insect is it has thrre "tails" or entenas coming directly out of the stinger withc are aproxemiely 5" long. I am stumped, what kind of wasp is this?

Probably a female Ichneumon Wasp, Megarhyssa atrata.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I live in Rock Hill, SC and came across this insect while I was weeding the monkey grass. It was about about inch long, had three body sections like an ant but it’s body was fuzzy like a bumble bee. It was bright red with black stripes like a bee, no wings but had six black legs. It didn’t move very fast but crawled along the monkey grass and yard. Can you tell me what this was?

Sounds like a Velvet Ant, (Dasymutilla occidentalis) a female flightless wasp, capable of delivering quite a sting. They are sometimes known as cow-killers or mule-killers, and are feared by tobacco farmers who often get stung. See if this photo matches.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I was outside this morning at about 8:00 am. I live in West Virginia. I happened to look at the corner o my house near where my gas meter is and saw a real strange bug sitting on the wall. It was very dark blue or black had a body that was about 1.5 to 2 inshes long ( approx) . Had wings that were about an 1.5 or so. Had a curved body. It also had this stinger or something ( not sure what to call it. That was about 1/32 inch in diameter and about 5 or 6 inches long. I watched it for a minutes and it flew off. It was so large that i could see it 50 feet away in the air. Do you have any idea on what it was or where i can find information on flying insects? any help will be great.
Big Bad Bob

Dear Bob,
Let me commend you on your excellent verbal description. I believe it is a female Ichneumon Wasp, probably Megarhyssa atrata. She uses that long ovipositor to deposit her eggs deep into wood where the young search out and devour wood eating grubs. Very specialized development that would interest all Darwinians.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination