Great Golden Digger Wasp Facts

In this article, we will share all the basic species details about the great golden digger wasp, such as its habitat, what it eats, and so on.

Great golden digger wasps will instantly grab your attention as they have brightly colored bodies and are big in size.

These features can make them look quite intimidating, but should you be scared of these wasps?

Also, are they beneficial to gardeners like many other solitary wasps?

Let us find the answers to such questions in this article.

What Are Great Golden Digger Wasps?

The great golden digger wasps (Sphex Ichneumoneus) belong to the Sphecidae family and the order Hymenoptera.

These insects get their name from the bright golden hairs on their head and thorax. Their abdomen is usually rusty-red or orange in the front and black in the rear.

This vivid combination of colors gives it a catchy and attractive appearance that instantly catches people’s attention.

Also, great golden digger wasps are big insects; they show an average growth of about 1.5 inches.

You must know that these giant insects are solitary wasps; the female wasps prefer to construct individual nests to lay eggs.

What Does A Great Golden Digger Wasp Eat?

Adult wasps mostly have herbivorous diets. They are fond of drinking sweet flower nectar, and you can find them hovering around gardens and wildflowers.

The larvae rely on a protein-rich carnivorous diet to fulfill their needs.

The adult female hunts down pests like crickets and katydids. Fascinatingly, these insects do not kill the prey; they paralyze it to carry it back to their burrows.

The larva then devours the paralyzed insects to gain enough nutrients to start its pupal stage.

The availability of prey and food acts as a significant factor in deciding the ideal locations for building the nest. Let us take a look at where these wasps live.

Where Do Great Golden Digger Wasps Live?

Great golden diggers are found in various regions of Mexico, North America, South America, and Canada.

As mentioned above, these insects prefer to be around flowering areas as they primarily rely on nectar to fulfill their diets.

They like to be around open grasslands in a warm and sunny climate. Also, they build underground nests and prefer to be near sandy soil.

Unlike social wasps, you cannot spot them in big groups. However, nesting aggregations of up to hundreds of females can occur in ideal nesting areas.

Life Cycle of A Great Golden Digger Wasp

The life cycle of great golden digger wasps starts in the early spring when the females prepare to lay eggs.

They start by looking for an ideal spot to build deep underground tunnels. Once she finishes the digging, the entrance is covered to hide the nest’s existence.

She then proceeds to hunt small insects for the young ones.

Once the prey is tracked, the female digger wasp stings it. The stinger does not kill the insects, it paralyzes them.

The paralyzed prey is then carefully carried to the underground, vertical tunnels built by the females.

On their way to the nest, the wasps get ambushed by birds like robins. This is an attempt to steal the hunt from the wasp.

If the wasp manages to get the hunt to the nest, she does not put it in the burrow straight away; she first inspects the east, and if everything is intact, she stuffs the paralyzed prey in it.

She then drops an egg on the same vertical tunnel containing the insect. Once done, she exists and covers the tunnel again.

This process is repeated until all the tunnels are filled with insects.

Unlike social wasps, the great golden digger wasps do not show aggressive behavior in defending the nests.

When the eggs hatch, the wasp larva starts consuming the immobile insect in the chamber.

They devour the entire insect to gain size and nutrition to merge as active and healthy adults in the summer.

How Long Do Great Golden Digger Wasps Live?

Great golden digger wasps live around five to eight weeks as adults.

These insects can die much earlier if they are hunted down by potential wasp predators like birds, raccoons, and other giant insects.

The adults usually emerge during the peak summer months.

Do They Bite/Sting?

Great golden digger wasps may appear scary, but they are almost harmless. The males do not possess stingers and will not harm humans.

The females have stingers, but they use them to hunt insects only.

These wasps will only attack if you try to handle them recklessly. However, their stings can be painful.

Are They Poisonous/Venomous?

Great golden digger wasp stings are venomous enough to paralyze small insects, but it is quite ineffective against giants like humans.

However, if you are allergic to wasp stings, you must stay away from these insects, or you will have significant problems.

Are They Harmful or Beneficial to Humans?

As mentioned above, these insects are not harmful to humans. They will only attack if you are reckless around them.

Golden digger wasps are beneficial insects as they help to eliminate garden pests like grasshoppers.

These insects are decent pollinators. Also, by creating underground nests, they increase the aeration properties of the soil.

What Are Great Golden Digger Wasps Attracted To?

Great golden digger wasps prefer open grasslands. They prefer to be around sandy soil, which allows them to effectively build underground nests.

Also, you can find them hovering around flowers for nectar.

You must note that great golden digger wasps are significantly attracted to warm climates.

How to Get Rid of Great Golden Digger Wasps

Great golden digger wasps prefer to be in spaces with abundant pest populations.

They hunt insects like grasshoppers to feed the young ones. If your garden is free from pests, these insects will refrain from digging nests in that region.

Also, since they construct underground nests, they are attracted to loose, sandy soil.

If the garden is filled with grass and other plants, the soil becomes firm, which makes it harder for these wasps to build underground nests.

Interesting Facts About Great Golden Digger Wasps

This article gives you a good overview of the great golden wasp.

Apart from the appearance, nesting habits, and life cycle, we will share a few more interesting facts about these insects in this section.

  • Great golden digger wasp females are comparatively bigger than males. Also, the males do not possess a stinger.
  • Every mama golden digger wasp inspects the nest before putting the paralyzed prey in it. If the prey gets dislocated while inspecting, the wasp will relocate it, carry it to the nest, and inspect it again before stuffing the hunt inside.
  • While putting the immobilized insect in the tunnel, the female always stuffs them head first.
  • While carrying the insects to the nest these wasps are ambushed by birds like robins to steal the prey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are great golden digger wasps dangerous?

Great golden digger wasps are almost harmless, with males not possessing stingers and females using them only to hunt insects.
They will only attack if handled recklessly, and their stings can be painful but are not harmful to humans unless they are allergic.
These wasps are beneficial as they eliminate garden pests, are decent pollinators, and their underground nests improve soil aeration.

Great golden digger wasp life cycle?

The life cycle of great golden digger wasps begins in spring when females find a spot to build underground tunnels for their eggs.
They hunt small insects, paralyze them with a sting, and bring them to the tunnels to lay an egg on top. This process is repeated until all tunnels are filled.
The larvae consume the paralyzed insects to grow and become healthy adults in summer.
These wasps do not show aggressive behavior in defending their nests.

Great golden digger wasp size?

Great golden digger wasps are members of the Sphecidae family and the order Hymenoptera.
They have bright golden hairs on their head and thorax, and their abdomen is usually rusty-red or orange in the front and black in the rear.
These large insects are about 1.5 inches in size and are solitary wasps, with females preferring to construct individual nests to lay eggs.

How to get rid of a great golden digger wasp?

Great golden digger wasps prefer to be in areas with abundant pest populations and are attracted to loose, sandy soil for their underground nests.
To prevent them from digging nests in your garden, keep the area free from pests and avoid having too much grass and plants that make the soil firm.

Wrap Up

Great golden digger wasps are giant insects with brightly colored bodies. They might look scary, but they are mostly harmless to humans.

These insects will only sting if they feel threatened by your presence. Be careful around them, as these stings can be painful.

Also, remember that great golden digger wasps help get rid of pests like grasshoppers without using any chemicals.

Thank you for reading the article.

Reader Emails

The great golden digger wasps are one of the most eye-catching insects in your garden.

Many of our readers are attracted to their appearance, and that has led to several emails being sent in with pictures of these bugs.

Please go through some of them below.

Letter 1 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Hey Bugman, I wrote the otherday concerning a bug I found digging holes. I have since been told that it is a great golden digger wasp. Then I checked your site and sure enough there it was…I never thought to look under Wasps. I thought I’d give you the photo’s in file format anyway so you can use them if you should desire. Great site. Jay Hi Jay, Since we can only post four letters in an hour, we must leave many letters unanswered. If we couldn’t open your previous files, they probably got discarded. We are happy your Great Golden Digger Wasp was identified and are happy to post your images. Thank you.

Letter 2 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Great Golden Digging Wasp – Ky I found a wasp digging in the back yard. From your sight it appears to be a Great Golden Digging Wasp. Last year I found a Cow Killer in my garage. Trying to identify that I found your great site. Keep up the good work. Thank You, David Hi David, Thank you so much for using the site as a research tool. So many people just send in photos and questions when a little searching will give them the answers. Your Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus preys upon crickets, camel crickets and katydids. The adult builds the burrow and provisions 2-7 cells with anesthetized prey for the larval food. Adults frequent flowers for nectar and are active July and August.

Letter 3 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


digging holes in WI Hi. My wife and I have noticed these wasps digging little burrows in the soil right outside our patio door. From other pics on your site I believe they are great golden digger wasps. I have never seen them here before. I first noticed them this morning when my 2 year old was outside playing and they were swarming around him. I made him come in right away. How can I get rid of them? Raid? Thanks, Matt from WI Hi Matt, This is, as you suspect, a Great Golden Digger Wasp. It need not be gotten rid of with Raid nor any other means as they are not aggressive wasps. Your time would be much better spent educating your two year old on the wonders and diversity of nature and teaching the child to appreciate and respect life.

Letter 4 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Is this a Goilden Digger Wasp? This fellow had a thing for the flowers on our red onion plants today. This gave me the opportunity to take several pretty sharp photos. Feel free to share. I enjoy your website quite a bit, Thanks! John Baumann Spokane, WA Hi John, Your Great Golden Digger Wasp identification is quite accurate.

Letter 5 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Wasp Identification Hi, We have this bug in our yard that is digging it’s nest in the ground. What’s weird is the queen or mother bug started digging the nest then this one took over and we haven’t seen the big one since. The big one was probably 2 to 21/2 inches long and wider. It was huge. I don’t know if you can see in the pic, but the bug in this pic has a light green head with round black eyes. We have never seen one like this here and wondered what kind of bug it was and is it aggressive? Thanks so much. Melody D. Flippin Arkansas Hi Melody The Great Golden Digger Wasp is a solitary species that provisions its underground nest with grasshoppers, katydids and crickets to provide food for the young. It is a nonagressive species. Your observation of the “queen” may be a misinterpretation of the actual events. We are not sure if Great Golden Digger Wasps will appropriate the nest of another insect, like a Cicada Killer.

Letter 6 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Burrowing in my garden HI, I was hoping you could identify a bug for me. I’ve attached a photo of a flying insect, about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches long. It’s burrowing holes in my garden. Should I be concerned about anything? At least it’s not in the house! Thanks! Randy Scott Hi Randy, You have no cause for alarm. This is a nonaggressive Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus. Your specimen is a female and she is digging a nest that she will provision with katydids, crickets and camel crickets, the food for the larvae. The adult wasp will visit flowers for pollen.

Letter 7 – Unknown Digger Wasp


Spotted in Southern California This bug caught my roomate and boyfriend’s eye near our front door. It was about 1/2″ long, resembled a house fly and had wings and long antennae. It’s legs were orange and in the sun the body had a blueish sheen. It killed another bug possibly a cricket, grasshopper or potato bug (something much larger than it) by biting it, then dug a fairly large hole compared to the two bugs, dragged the other bug into the hole and stayed in there for several minutes. Then the unidentified bug emerged and began covering the hole (these are pics of the bug covering the hole). Once the hole was filled it flew away. When I came home my friend’s showed me where the hole was and it was pretty well-covered, almost invisible if you were not aware it was there. What the heck is it? Tara S. Hawaiian Gardens, Ca
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Hi Tara, We wish you were able to provide us with an image of this Great Golden Digger Wasp with its prey, but we will have to content ourselves with the dirt flying in your nice action shot and the description of what you witnessed. The Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus, feeds on pollen and nectar as an adult, but a female wasp stings and paralizes crickets and katydids to provide food for her progeny. Daniel: The “great golden digger wasp” from southern California looks like Sphex nudus to me, but I’m not sure that species is supposed to occur there. Also, half an inch is very small for any species of Sphex, so it could be a different wasp altogether! A shot of the prey animal would have been conclusive. Eric Eaton

Letter 8 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Some type of wasp July 20, 2009 I found these wasps targeting some butterfly weed out in a 6 acre meadow that abuts a pine oak forest. They weren’t interest in any other plant on the preserve. The photos should be enough to identify this specimen. Thanks! Derek Long Island New York
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Hi Derek, This is a Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus, and we just posted photos of three specimens from our own garden in Los Angeles.  The species is found from coast to coast.  As you observed, the adults visit flowers for nectar, and the female Great Golden Digger Wasp preys upon Katydids, Crickets and related Long Horned Orthopterans to provision a nest for her young.

Letter 9 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


great golden digger wasp? July 22, 2009 In my backyard on the milkflower flowers Boog Broadkill beach, de
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Dear Boog, Yes, this is a Great Golden Digger Wasp and it is a beautiful photograph.

Letter 10 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Great Golden Digger Wasp July 26, 2009 Oh no! Not Terry again! Yes it’s me. And I have another wasp. This one was Identified by John S. Asher as the Great Golden Digger Wasp. Sphex ichneumoneus. Thanks. Terry Mound, MN
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Hi again Terry, The only reason we are allowing you to monopolize our postings today is that you have excellent images and several of your insects are not well represented on our site.  We have posted about three other examples of Great Golden Digger Wasps in the past two weeks, including images of three individuals taking nectar from our own blooming onions in Los Angeles.  We want to head outside now to photograph the tiny Stink Bugs that are mating on our collard greens.  We also will need to identify them.

Letter 11 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Orange Digging Bee August 2, 2009 Hello, In my garden I have multiple bees digging multiple holes almost exactly 8″ apart from eachother. The bees are about 2″ long and their wings flutter constantly. They are not aggressive just very busy digging perfect little holes! Jody Central Massachusetts
Great Golden Digger Wasp with Nest
Great Golden Digger Wasp with Nest
Hi Jody, This is a Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus, a species found throughout the continental U.S.  The Great Golden Digger Wasp is not aggressive toward humans and it will help keep the katydid and cricket population down in your garden because that is what the female wasp provisions her underground nest with so the wasp larvae will have a ready food supply. Thank You so much for helping me ID this wasp.  I really like the little critters and enjoy watching them, they seem to be just as curious about me as well. I appreciate your help! Jody

Letter 12 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Is this a ground hornet? August 7, 2009 Hi Bugman – I found these guys living in the ground outside my apartment. I thought they might be some type of hornet but I didn’t think hornets lived in the ground. They’re very large. I hope you can help me identify them. Tom Houston Allentown, PA USA Tom H. NE Pennsylvania USA
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Hi Tom, This is a Great Golden Digger Wasp and we have posted numerous photos of them in the past few weeks, including some photos from our own garden. They are not an aggressive species.  It is nice that your photo shows the burrow. Thank you for the quick response.  It’s good to know that they are not aggressive.  I guess that’s why I was able to get so close. Thanks again.  Great website! Tom

Letter 13 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


What is kind of bug? November 7, 2009 We did found out what kind bug is? we found on Sept 11 2009 and my dad sent me picture and we want to know what is kind of bug is? It is look like mix bee type to me. m.o Canada,eastern
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Hi M.O, This beauty is a Great Golden Digger Wasp.  It preys upon katydids and crickets to feed its young.

Letter 14 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Wasp? Cicada Killer? Spider Wasp? Location:  Cleveland, Ohio July 23, 2010 4:40 pm This is burrowing in my Northern Ohio garden. I need to know if it’s friendly and helpful to my garden or whether or not I need to get rid of it. Please help me identify. Thank you. Signature: JJM
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Dear JJM, How fortunate you are to have a Great Golden Digger Was, Sphex ichneumoneus, nesting in your garden.  The Great Golden Digger Wasp is beneficial for the garden for at least two reasons.  First, adults are excellent pollinating insects and they are not aggressive towards humans.  Secondly, the female wasp provisions her nest with plant eating insects in the order Orthoptera.  According to BugGuide:  “Female digs burrow almost vertically. Cells are dug radiating out from central tunnel. Larvae are provisioned with crickets, camel crickets, katydids (long-horned grasshoppers). One paralyzed prey is placed in each cell, and one egg is laid on it. One generation per year.”  The Great Golden Digger Wasp is found throughout the continental United States from coast to coast.  The Great Golden Digger Wasp in our personal favorite wasp.

Letter 15 – Great Golden Digger Wasp at the entrance of her nest


Orange and Black Wasp Location:  Centreville, VA August 1, 2010 3:17 pm I saw this wasp(?) digging a hole in the garden of our school, I watched for a while and took pictures. I left, returned a couple of hours later and the hole was covered up. Not much chance of someone being up there and distrubing it’s natural behavior. Looks like a cousin to the Digger Wasp but not certain. Bev Basham
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Hi Bev, You were lucky enough to see a burrow of a Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus.  The female provisions the nest with crickets, katydids or camel crickets, depending on which of them is most readily available in the area.  The Great Golden Digger Wasp ranges across all of the continental United States and much of Canada.

Letter 16 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


A golden digger wasp? Location:  South Pasadena, CA August 6, 2010 2:03 am I’ve been seeing this large handsome wasp on the milkweed. It looks like the great golden digger wasps you’ve posted. If it is, do you have any information about how many katydids and grasshoppers it will feed to its young? Thank you. Must order your book. Barbara
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Hi Barbara, Your identification is correct.  WE have not been fortunate enough to see any Great Golden Digger Wasps in our garden this summer.  Unlike previous years, we do not have flowering onions or carrots right now, and they are plants that attract these active wasps. According to BugGuide:  “Female digs burrow almost vertically. Cells are dug radiating out from central tunnel. Larvae are provisioned with crickets, camel crickets, katydids (long-horned grasshoppers). One paralyzed prey is placed in each cell, and one egg is laid on it. One generation per year.”  A female will continue to paralyze prey to feed her brood as long as hunting is good and as long as she survives.  According to the Galveston County Master Gardeners website:  “the female Great Golden, in preparation for egg laying, constructs as many as half a dozen nests.”  The website also indicates:  “Great Golden nests have a cylinder shaped main tunnel that is one-half inch in diameter and four to six inches deep. From the main tunnel, she extends secondary tunnels that lead to individual larval cells where she will store anesthetized prey.”  It is difficult to place an exact average number of Katydids a female Great Golden Digger Wasp will feed to her young, but if she builds six nests with three chambers per nest, she may have as many as 18 young to feed, each with its own paralyzed Orthopteran.  Most females would probably average somewhere between 3 and 10, but that is just speculation on our part as we were unable to find any concrete statistics available to us online.  A trip to a library with online article access would be required to get the information contained in the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Oct., 1985) article that appears to have some statistics. Thank you.  I haven’t been seeing the grasshoppers and katydids lately.  I hope they’re not all gone.  It would be amazing to see the wasp capture a grasshopper.  Grasshoppers seem quite formidable.

Letter 17 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


I have another bug for you to look at. I was at work the other day and I saw this really big wasp digging holes in the walking path. He is about 1 inch long and extremely fast. I hope you like the pics.
Ed Cogan

Hi Ed,
Looks like you killed a Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichnumoneus. They hunt katydids and nest in burrows.

Letter 18 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


ID please Hi there, I’m from Quebec, Canada. For the 2nd year I have that bug around my house. I just need the identification.(see picts enclose) I looked for your web page and I thing it is similar Cicadas Killer Wasp. Is it correct? Thanks, Guy Rene Excuse my English I’m a french spoker. Hello Guy, Your English is far better than our French. This is not a Cicada Killer. It is a Great Golden Digger Wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus. The underground nest is provisioned with paralyzed crickets and grasshoppers for the larvae to eat.

Letter 19 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Is this a golden digger wasp?
Hello Bugman,
I love your website. My husband took these photos of a wasp flying from mint flower to mint flower in my garden. Please identify it and tell me what it eats. If it is a golden digger wasp then why is it flying from flower to flower?
Chigiy Binell, Blogmistress

Hi Chigiy,
Adult Great Golden Digger Wasps, like many wasps, feed on nectar and pollen. Great Golden Digger Wasps capture katydids and related insects and sting them to paralyze them. The paralyzed insect is then dragged to the burrow and an egg is layed on its comatose body. The hatchling wasp larva then has a fresh food source.

Letter 20 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Is this a Great Golden Digger? Hello Bugman, We’ve just discovered several of these burrowing around the driveway in Long Island, New York in the sandy ground. Is this a Great Golden Digger? I’m afraid we are not very “Pro Bug” with stinging insects and would like to get rid of them rather than risk seeing what kind of reaction a sting would have on our kids who have a range of allergies already. Can you tell me: 1) Are they aggressive? 2) Will any non-chemical methods work to get rid of them? (like sugar water in a wasp trap?) 3) Is each hole we are seeing home to an individual wasp or do they dig several holes each? There atleast 30 holes in the immediate area…. Thank You, Christy Ps-Although a lot of the pics make the kids scream, your site is very educational without being boring-well done! Hi Christy, You are correct. This is a Great Golden Digger Wasp and it is not aggressive. We do not have any advice regarding eliminating them. Each tunnel belongs to a single wasp, though one wasp may dig multiple tunnels.

Letter 21 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


a picture for you Can you help us identify this bug? As you can see, it was digging a hole in our flowerbed. The soil is loose and sandy. Is it going to lay eggs in the hole. There are two other holes nearby. What’s the best way to get rid of it? Many thanks, Melissa Gough Hi Melissa, This is a Great Golden Digger Wasp and we cannot understand why you would want to get rid of it. It is a non-aggressive solitary wasp that will sting crickets and katydids that eat your plants. The female wasp then drags the paralyzed Orthopteran to her underground nursery and lays an egg on it. Thanks so much for your reply. If it’s non-aggressive, we won’t kill it then. Great website. Here’s a better picture if you want to post it. Melissa

Letter 22 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


What kind of bug is this??? Hi, I came across your site and thought this is wonderful, I saw a big stinging type flying thing while taking pics with my new camera. Unfortunately I do not have a zoom lens, and these creatures are photo friendly! So I didn’t dare get too close. I will attach a few photos to get as much information as you can. Oh yes, they were specifically staying around the type of flower you see in picture, although there were many types available to them, they stayed in one spot. There were several of them around. Thank you so much! Hi again and sorry I neglected to identify where I am located. I am located in the North Shore of Massachusetts. Caran Hi Caran, We just photographed a Great Golden Digger Wasp in our Los Angeles garden. This is a wide ranging species in North America.

Letter 23 – Great Golden Digger Wasp excavates nest


Subject: Ground insect… Bee? Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan August 17, 2013 7:01 pm Here’s a strange ground insect/bee (strange to me, anyway). It was digging a hole in my garden in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was about 1-1/2” long with a loud buzz. Can you ID it for me? Signature: Sue
Great Golden Digger Wasp excavates nest
Great Golden Digger Wasp excavates nest
Dear Sue, You have observed and photographed a female Great Golden Digger Wasp excavating her nest.  Perhaps you will be fortunate enough to witness her stocking her nest with paralyzed Katydids or Crickets to feed her young.  Great Golden Digger Wasps are solitary wasps, and though she has a stinger, she would be very reluctant to use it on a human.  Solitary Wasps are generally not aggressive, nor do they defend their nests from attack.  This Great Golden Digger Wasp uses her instincts to locate Katydids and sting them.  Her venom does not kill the prey, but merely paralyzes it.  She then drags the paralyzed Katydid back to the nest and buries it.  She lays an egg on the paralyzed Katydid and the larva then has a supply of fresh, not dried, meat upon which to feed. Very cool, Daniel! Thanks for the great information and such a quick response!! Are these wasps very common? I’ve never seen one… Sue Great Golden Digger Wasps are not rare and they are found in all 48 lower states.

Letter 24 – Great Golden Digger Wasp


Subject:  Wasp/hornet identification Geographic location of the bug:  Tacoma, Washington Date: 07/31/2021 Time: 03:20 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  This little guy had been flying around my yard, he’s about an inch long, at least twice the length of the honey bees, he’s pictured on oregano flowers that may help with size. He is long and thin, he seems to be alone. How you want your letter signed:  Christine Payne
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Dear Christine, This is a Great Golden Digger Wasp, a solitary wasp that preys upon Katydids to feed its brood.  Great Golden Digger Wasps are found throughout the continental United States and they are not aggressive.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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6 thoughts on “Great Golden Digger Wasp Facts”

  1. Hi,
    I live on the same latitude as James but farther west; in Kemptville, ON, half way between Ottawa and Ogdensburg, NY.
    I’ve never seen the Great Golden Digger Wasp before but I have at least 3 of them burrowing in my yard. The soil is very sandy and their burrow gets about half a day of sun.

    Are these rare creatures? Are they moving North as the planet warms up? Is there anything I should be doing to encourage them?

    Thank you,

    • To the best of our knowledge, the Great Golden Digger Wasp is not an aggressive species, and we have never heard of anyone getting stung by one.

  2. I have several holes in my yard and I have only seen 1 wasp looking bug emerge from one hole it looks like the above pic from Sue how ever I have not been able to take a picture of it as I am terrified but I have taken pictures of the holes and they do do just like the about pic. Does this wasp make several holes? I can count at lease 15 holes.

  3. Hello. Nice website. I’m surprised that nobody has made a comment about the buzzing noises the golden ground diggers make. I observed one for a while. When it was first digging it’s hole it made the buzzing sound all the while that it was actually pushing into the ground. Later on, when it was covering over the hole ( I missed it putting an egg and bug in) it again made the buzzing sound when it was pushing small debris into and around it’s burrow. This has led me to ponder whether it is using it’s loud buzzing with (I’m sure it’s bodily vibrations) as a sort of “impact tool” It buzzed constantly while it was pushing the debris in place over the burrow opening. It pushed the debris for a solid 8 to 12 seconds, even though you could no longer see the piece of debris moving anymore. Check it out next time you witness one at work. Bloody marvelous. A built-in impact tool. I am positive that is exactly what it was using the buzz for. Way cool!


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