Subject: Digger Wasp? Dangerous?
Location: Orange, Essex County, NJ
August 25, 2015 10:38 am
Here are a few pix of this multi-colored wasp-like/-looking thing in my front garden. This is a pic of the first one. I saw one or two others. It seems to really like the ripe raspberries… far more than it likes the tomato flowers.
I am lethally allergic to bee stings and wasp stings. Is this thing dangerous to me? I stop breathing, if untreated, in 12 seconds after being stung… and again about 15 minutes after injection with my first dpi-pen. This one didn’t exhibit any interest, or even fear, at my getting close enough to take the pix with my iPhone.
Signature: Stephanie

Digger Wasp

Digger Wasp

Dear Stephanie,
Thanks so much for taking the time to take your comment and submit a query with images, and though your image quality is quite poor, the distinctive coloration of the Blue Winged Wasp or Digger Wasp,
Scolia dubia, makes is identity quickly identifiable.  The gap in time between your comment and your query has allowed us to contemplate the matter a bit and we can’t help but to wax philosophically on the topic.

You ask:  “Is this thing dangerous to me?” so we turned to BugEric who writes:  “Males cannot sting, and females are loathe to sting unless physically molested.”  Not resisting the temptation to pick up or eat this Digger Wasp might provoke a sting from 50% of their population.  We cannot imagine you attempting either of those two possibilities.  We suspect your condition might be making you overly cautious, but again, we concur that there is always a possibility of being stung.  How great is that possibility?  We feel it is quite minimal.  According to the University of Florida Extension paper by E.E. Grissell:  “Male scoliids are frequently seen cruising close to the ground in irregular figure eight patterns (Krombein, personal communication).  A dozen or so may be skimming the soil’s surface, but not be noticed until the eye becomes accostomed to their presence.  According to Iwata (1976) a female will land and dig into the soil using first her mandibles and then her fore- and midlegs.”  Recognizing the behavior of the sexes may help you to become more aware of the difference between the physical impossibility of being stung verses a minimal chance that you might be stung.

Location: Orange, Essex County, New Jersey

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