Subject: Digging in the dirt!
Geographic location of the bug: Southern Nevada
Time: 03:08 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: While out to lay pavers in our yard we got to watch a fascinating insect we’d never seen before. We watched for some time as it dug in our soft dirt, buzzing in the hole, moving rocks (sometimes as large as it was!) and at one point it unearthed a grub of sorts! Biting it behind the head it held in… it didn’t appear to sting it, and eventually the grub ceased to move. For an hour we watched as our friend dig holes, and then moved on to another spot. On one hole we watched her start to fill it back in, going in to buzz excitedly, then back to digging. I have a couple of videos too, if you’re interested.
How you want your letter signed: Sincerely, Kristi Shaffer
This is a Thread-Waisted Wasp in the family Specidae, and the prey is a Cutworm. The Wasp will not eat the Caterpillar. Rather, the female Wasp has paralyzed the Caterpillar which it will bury and the paralyzed Caterpillar will provide food for the developing Wasp larva which will feed on the helpless, but living Caterpillar. We believe we have correctly identified your Wasp as Podalonia argentifrons thanks to images posted to BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “Larvae are provisioned with caterpillars exclusively from the family Noctuidae.”