The Double Banded Scoliid is a fascinating species of wasp that belongs to the Scoliid family. These insects are not only striking in appearance, but they also play an essential role in the ecosystem. In this article, you’ll discover all you need to know about these intriguing creatures, including their habits, appearance, and significance in nature.
With their distinctive blue-black body and blackish purple wings, Double Banded Scoliids truly stand out. Their name comes from the two cream-colored bands found on the front half of their abdomen. These wasps are often seen visiting flowers and possess hairy bodies, giving them a unique look among their wasp counterparts.
As a type of digger wasp, Double Banded Scoliids are known for their ground nesting habits. These wasps are a crucial part of our environment, acting as natural controllers of pests, such as grubs, by laying their eggs on them. In doing so, they help maintain a healthy balance within the ecosystem, ensuring that certain pest populations remain in check.
Double Banded Scoliid: Identification
The Double Banded Scoliid, also known as Scolia bicincta, is a wasp in the Scoliidae family. They are known for their:
- Small size
- Adult length of ¾–2 inches long
These wasps have a distinct coloration characterized by:
- Dark, hairy bodies
- Blackish-purple wings
A notable feature of the Double Banded Scoliid is their yellow stripes. These stripes are:
- Found on each side of the abdomen
Two Creamy White Bands on Abdomen
The common name “double-banded” comes from their two creamy white bands located on the front half of the abdomen, making them resemble a mason wasp.
Wing Vein Patterns
The wing vein patterns of the Double Banded Scoliid are distinctive, aiding in their identification.
Adult Length: ¾–2 Inches
Double Banded Scoliids have a relatively short adult length compared to other wasps, measuring about ¾–2 inches long.
|Feature||Double Banded Scoliid||Mason Wasp|
|Size (Adult Length)||¾–2 inches||½–1 inch|
|Body Color||Dark and hairy||Black or blue|
|Bands on Abdomen||2 creamy white bands||1-2 red bands|
|Stripes||Yellow stripes||No stripes|
In summary, the Double Banded Scoliid is a small wasp in the Scoliidae family, identifiable by its dark, hairy body, contrasting yellow stripes, and two creamy white bands on the abdomen. Its wing vein patterns and ¾–2 inch adult body length further distinguish it from other wasp species.
Classification and Relatives
Double-banded Scoliid wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera, which consists of various insect species such as:
These arthropods and hexapods display distinct characteristics like paired wings, a slim waist, and two pairs of membranous wings.
Within the order Hymenoptera, Double-banded Scoliid wasps are classified under the family Scoliidae. This family of wasps comprises two subfamilies and various genera, including the genus Scolia.
Notable features of the Scoliidae family are:
- A robust body
- Wide head and thorax
Other wasps within the Scoliidae family include Mason wasps and Flower wasps.
As a part of the family Scoliidae, Double-banded Scoliid wasps are classified within the subfamily Scoliinae. This subfamily is part of the Aculeata group, which contains stinging Hymenopterans.
Distinct characteristics of the Scoliinae Subfamily:
- Predatory behavior
- Burrow-digging ability
Compared to other wasps within the order Hymenoptera, members of Scoliinae have different prey preferences and nest structures.
Here’s a comparison table of Double-banded Scoliid vs Mason Wasp:
|Feature||Double-Banded Scoliid||Mason Wasp|
|Nest||Soil burrows||Mud nests|
Overall, Double-banded Scoliid wasps are essential members of the Hymenoptera order, the Scoliidae family, and the Scoliinae subfamily. Understanding their classification and relatives provides insight into their behavior, characteristics, and ecological role.
Distribution and Habitat
The Double Banded Scoliid (Scolia bicincta) has a range that covers parts of the United States, particularly in Eastern and Central North America. It can be found in states such as Georgia, North Carolina, and Missouri.
In the United States, these wasps are more commonly found within the Eastern regions and some Central areas, where they frequent fields with flowers and other open habitats.
Eastern and Central North America
In Eastern and Central North America, the distribution of the Double Banded Scoliid varies geographically. They are found in:
- North Carolina
The Double Banded Scoliid is distributed unevenly in its range probably due to differences in habitat types. However, this wasp is generally attracted to fields and areas with abundant flowers.
- Fields with flowers
- Open habitats
Behavior and Ecology
Double Banded Scoliid wasps are often seen visiting flowers during the season between July and September. They play a crucial role in pollination as they move from flower to flower. Some common flowers visited by them include:
These wasps have a parasitoid lifestyle. This means that their larvae feed on other live insects like grubs or beetle larvae, eventually killing the host. For example, they commonly parasitize Scarab beetle larvae.
Double Banded Scoliid wasps exhibit sexual dimorphism. Males have longer antennae and a more constricted waist, while females possess a larger abdomen for laying eggs. This can be summarized in the table below:
Interactions with Other Insects
Double Banded Scoliid wasps coexist with several other insects like ants and bees. They generally avoid confrontation with ants, as they can release formic acid, which is harmful to the wasps. On the other hand, these wasps may prey on small bees but do not compete with them for floral resources.
Overall, Double Banded Scoliid wasps are essential players in the ecosystem, providing valuable pollination services and keeping the population of other insects, like beetle larvae, in check. Their diverse behavioral attributes and ecological preferences make them fascinating creatures worth studying and understanding.
Life Cycle and Food
The life cycle of the Double Banded Scoliid starts with the female laying an egg. The egg is strategically placed near a beetle grub, providing immediate nourishment to the newly hatched larva.
Beetle Larvae Hunting
When the Double Banded Scoliid larva hatches, its primary food source is the beetle grub. These wasps are no doubt a parasitoid of beetle larvae, as are other members of this genus. The larva hunts and feeds on the beetle larvae to grow.
The life stages of the Double Banded Scoliid are:
- Egg: The beginning stage, laid by the female wasp near a beetle grub.
- Larva: The growing stage, feeding on the beetle larvae.
- Pupa: The stage where the larva transforms into an adult wasp in its cocoon.
- Adult: The final stage, signifying a mature and fully grown Double Banded Scoliid.
Adult Double Banded Scoliid wasps primarily feed on nectar from flowering plants. However, their larvae are dependent on beetle larvae as their primary food source. It is essential for the survival and growth of the Double Banded Scoliid.
Scolia Dubia, also known as the Blue-Winged Scoliid Wasp, is a large, stout wasp with blue-black coloration and dark wings. It shares similar appearance traits with the Double Banded Scoliid, but lacks the cream-colored bands.
- Found in eastern North America
- Paralyzes and feeds on scarab beetle larvae
Scolia Nobilitata is another member of the Scoliid Wasps family, distinguished by its bright pattern in shades of red, yellow, or white combined with black.
- Occurs in southeastern United States
- Parasitizes soil-inhabiting scarab beetle larvae
Pygodasis Quadrimaculata is a species of Scoliid Wasps marked by its yellow and black color pattern.
- Found in North America
- Attacks white grubs
Dielis Plumipes, also known as Feather-Legged Spider Wasp, possesses a strikingly similar appearance to the Double Banded Scoliid in terms of its size and coloration. The main difference lies in its hairy legs.
- Distribution is sparse and not well documented
- Their larvae feed on wolf spiders
The Blue-Winged Wasp is another species that has similarities with the Double Banded Scoliid. It displays a metallic blue-black body and blue-tinted wings.
- Common across the United States
- Predatory on green June beetle larvae
|Double Banded Scoliid||Blue-black with cream bands||Eastern North America||Scarab beetle larvae|
|Scolia Dubia||Blue-black||Eastern North America||Scarab beetle larvae|
|Scolia Nobilitata||Red, yellow, or white + black||Southeastern United States||Scarab beetle larvae|
|Pygodasis Quadrimaculata||Yellow and black||North America||White grubs|
|Dielis Plumipes||Blue-black with hairy legs||Sparse and undocumented||Wolf spiders|
|Blue-Winged Wasp||Metallic blue-black with blue wings||United States||Green June beetle larvae|
Conservation and Importance
Double banded scoliid wasps are valuable in the field of entomology for their beneficial roles in the ecosystem. They are mostly known as:
- Scarab hunters: These solitary wasps prey on scarab beetle grubs, helping to control their populations.
- Beetle hunters: The wasps also hunt other beetle species, contributing to maintaining a balance in the ecosystem.
Currently, the exact population status of double banded scoliid wasps is not well-documented. However, they are considered important for further study due to their beneficial roles.
Threats and Challenges
Some potential threats and challenges to the double banded scoliid population include:
- Habitat loss and degradation
- Pesticide exposure
- Climate change impacts
These threats could lead to negative effects on the wasps’ populations and, in turn, a potential decline in their beneficial roles in the ecosystem.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Double Banded Scoliid
Subject: Wasp-like Insect
Location: Central Alabama
August 20, 2014 12:45 pm
Hello. Recently have seen several of these around, esp. near my flowering mint plants. Not sure what they are. I suspect they might sting, but are very docile in nature.
This beautiful Scarab Hunter or Flower Wasp in the family Scoliidae is commonly called a Double Banded Scoliid, Scolia bicincta. As you indicated, they are docile wasps that are solitary in nature. While we acknowledge that they might sting if the are threatened or carelessly handled, there is very little chance of a sting if they are not bothered. Scarab Hunter wasps are beneficial insects that help to control the populations of Scarab Beetles.
Letter 2 – Double Banded Scoliid Wasp
Pair of light yellow bands on abdomen , , ,
Location: Southern Baxter County Arkansas 20 miles South of Mountain Home
August 25, 2010 7:40 am
This critter loves the pollen on the Mountain Mint blossoms. It’s long and slender, gun-metal blue, with long thin wings,no obvious hair; seems neither territorial nor aggressive; shows up daily wherever the Mountain Mint is blossoming here, which started in late July and continues through August. Most notable characteristic is a pair of light yellow bands across its abdomen. Would love to know what type of critter it is.
This is a Double Banded Scoliid Wasp, Scolia bicincta, one of a group of wasps that preys upon beetle grubs to feed their larvae. You can see BugGuide for more information on this lovely wasp.
Letter 3 – Double Banded Scoliid
Subject: Identification Needed!
December 1, 2014 7:56 pm
Hi! I am trying to identify numerous insects for an entomology course. My project is due in two days so I am desperate to identify these insects. Every insect I have came from the middle Georgia area and were found between August-November. Please identify as many as you can! I know the picture quality is not the best so even a guess will work! I will submit 3 photos per insect for you to see multiple views. I will be very grateful for your help!
Signature: Thank you so much!
We do not plan to call off work today to respond to your desperate plea to identify all the insects in the fifteen emails you sent last night. We suggest that you use BugGuide and our own archives to do your own identifications based on the wealth of knowledge we are presuming you were taught in your course. The most popular posting on our site continues to be What’s That Bug? Will Not Do Your Child’s Homework. You need to pass (or fail) on your own.
Ed. Note: This is a Double Banded Scoliid, Scolia bicincta, which can be verified on BugGuide.