Currently viewing the category: "Scoliid Wasps"

Subject:  Fly or wasp
Geographic location of the bug:  Allentown, pa
Date: 08/20/2018
Time: 06:42 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I saw three of these wasplike insects feeding today. They all had similar markings. What are they?
How you want your letter signed:  Tom in PA

Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Tom in PA,
The Scarab Hunter Wasp,
Scolia dubia, is just one of the numerous wasp species that feed on Goldenrod.  They hunt Scarab Beetle larvae as food for their brood.

Subject:  flying all around my yard
Geographic location of the bug:  northern indiana
Date: 08/15/2018
Time: 10:51 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  dont seem to be a threat, flying just above the grass, there is a lot of them
How you want your letter signed:  Joe

Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Joe,
This is a solitary Scarab Hunter Wasp in the family Scoliidae, and they are not aggressive toward humans.  Your individual,
Scolia dubia, is commonly called a Blue Winged Wasp.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults take nectar, may also feed on juices from beetle prey. Larvae are parasites of scarab beetles, mainly June beetles and also the introduced Japanese beetle.”  Since the grubs of both Japanese Beetles and June Beetles are injurious to cultivated plants and lawns, the presence of the Blue Winged Wasps is a good sign for your garden.  BugGuide also states:  “Males and females have a courtship dance, flying close to the ground in a figure-8 or S pattern. Females burrow into ground in search of grubs, especially those of Cotinis and Popillia japonica. She stings it and often burrows farther down, then constructs a cell and lays an egg on the host. Larva pupates and overwinters in a cocoon within the body of the host.”  You may have witnessed the courtship dance.

Subject:  Some kind of Wasp
Geographic location of the bug:  Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Date: 07/25/2018
Time: 10:41 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I tried to find this bug  by using many possible search tags. I found this bee in the lungs of Mumbai City, i.e. Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It is in the State of Maharashtra, India.
How you want your letter signed:  Gaurav Iswalkar

Blue-Black Flower Wasp

Dear Gaurav,
Though we have not had any luck locating any matching images from India, we are confident this is a Scarab Hunter Wasp or Flower Wasp from the family Scoliidae.  The family members are described on the North American site BugGuide as “Robust, hairy, medium-sized to large.”  Then we found matching images on the Nature, Cultural, and Travel Photography Blog with a focus on Pakistan, but alas, it is only identified to the family level.  The site states:  “The Flower Wasp here is commonly know as Blue-black Flower Wasp or Hairy Flower Wasp belong to family Scoliidae. It has a black hairy body, orange colored antennae and shiny blue wings. The adult wasp feeds upon nectar and thus helps in pollination. The larvae act as important bio-control agents, feeding upon beetle larvae in the ground.”

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for the information as it was the closest and most accurate one till now … You are doing the great job and I would love to support you guys in any ways possible from my end.
Gaurav Iswalkar

Subject:  Scolid wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  New Jersey  Allaire State park
Date: 07/07/2018
Time: 02:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This is a scolid wasp I’m guessing?
How you want your letter signed:  Cindy

Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Cindy,
This is indeed a Scarab Hunter Wasp in the family Scoliidae, and we believe, based on BugGuide images, that it is
Campsomeris plumipes.  According to BugGuide:  “Scoliid wasps are parasitic upon larvae of soil-inhabiting scarab beetles.”

Scarab Hunter Wasp

Subject:  Rabat Morocco, lovely wasps everywhere
Geographic location of the bug:  Rabat, Morocco
Date: 07/10/2018
Time: 03:31 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  As July began, I saw more holes in the soil, and then these large and lovely creatures emerging from them. Now they are everywhere, buzzing about the bougonvillia, feasting on the marjoram, and dancing over the roses. They are about 1″ long, and though the pictures don’t show it well, they have yellow markings that are similar to the scolid wasp pictures supplied by others on the Mediterranean. It also has interesting segmented orange antennae.
How you want your letter signed:  Moroccan wasp fan

Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Moroccan wasp fan,
Your images of this gorgeous Scarab Hunter Wasp or Flower Wasp in the family Scoliidae are truly beautiful as well.  We are having trouble identifying your exact species, but your individual’s similarity to this FlickR image of
Scolia bidens from Mallorca causes us to speculate that you have captured images of a different Scolia species that also has distinctive orange antennae.

Flower Wasp

Thank you! They are really quite neat, especially because I had been wondering why there were so many holes. In Morocco, we have no screens so we share our home with any number of insects (there is a constant game with the ants, I hide the honey and they find it), but these ones are my favorite so far. I do feel a bit sad for the big bumbling beetles though, I assume the number of wasps is sadly inverse to the number of those ‘junebugs’ we saw.

Hi again Andrea,
Insect populations do ebb and flow, so when prey is plentiful, the population of predators increases, and when prey is scarce, you will see fewer predators.  This is what keeps nature in balance.

Subject:  Hot wasp lovin’
Geographic location of the bug:  Rio Grande Nature Center, Albuquerque NM
Date: 05/18/2018
Time: 04:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello!  We were in the nature center and came upon dozens of these wasps.   The smaller ones, which we assumed are males, were flying maybe an inch or so above the ground and clearly searching for something.  The larger one, which we assumed was a female, suddenly emerged from underground and the smaller ones went crazy.
She kept trying to get away but couldn’t fly because her wings weren’t dry.  I believe I caught the actual act of mating in one of the photos.  Are these scarab hunters?   It’s the closest we could come in identifying them, but there wasn’t an exact match in the field guide.
How you want your letter signed:  Mike

A pair of Scarab Hunter Wasps

Dear Mike,
Your images are awesome, and your written commentary is a marvelous observation.  We agree that these are Scarab Hunter Wasps in the family Scoliidae, but we are not certain of the species.  Our best guess is perhaps
Crioscolia alcione (see female here on BugGuide and male here on BugGuide) or possibly Trielis octomaculata which is also pictured on BugGuide.  Members of this family exhibit sexual dimorphism, and males are smaller and often with markings different from those of the females.  Based on your observations, the males sensed the pheromones of the female that was about to emerge, and they waited for her to dig to the surface. 

Mating Activity among Scarab Hunter Wasps

Thank you!  That certainly looks like them.  There were dozens and dozens of the males searching everywhere.  They were quite friendly and just zipped around us with mild interest.

Male Wasps are physically incapable of stinging. 

Mating Scarab Hunter Wasps

Oh yeah, right?  The stinger is a modified ovipositor.
The sheer number of searching males was the most impressive thing.  There were easily 4-5 per square foot.