Scarab Hunter Wasp

Subject: Walking in Florida Pine Woods
Location: Near US 1 and Old Kings Road
August 8, 2016 12:58 pm
I took a photo of this insect on a trail in Flagler County Florida yesterday, Aug 7, late in the day. The location was pine uplands at Hewitt Sawmill historic site. It was longer than an inch, had purplish long wings, made no sound at that time, black long body but not thin, and it had two yellow spots on each side of its abdomen. Its face looks like a giant ant. It was walking slowly across the shell-sand trail. The closest I found online is the Eastern Sawfly, but the markings don’t exactly match up. Could you pinpoint its identity?
Signature: Tom Hanson, Palm Coast FL

Scarab Hunter Wasp
Scarab Hunter Wasp

Dear Tom,
This is a Scarab Hunter Wasp, a name that applies to the entire genus
Campsomeris, and your individual is Campsomeris quadrimaculata with the species name of the binomial a reference to the four spots you observed.  You can verify our ID on BugGuide.  According to the genus page on BugGuide:  “According to Nick Fensler: The females Campsomeris as well as other members of the Campsomerinae use white grubs (Scarabaeidae) as food for their young. Unlike sphecids, eumenines, and pompilids these wasps do not appear to have any type of prey transportation and dig to the ground-dwelling beetle larvae, sting it to paralyze it, and then lay an egg. They may dig around the grub to form a small cell. Since they use this nesting strategy they are often seen flying low to the ground (searching) in a figure eight pattern (but the flight pattern gets more erratic when they ‘smell’ something). The adults use nectar as a food source and are common on flowers.”

Way cool!  Thank you.  I hope to see more of these out on my walks (and stay out of their way!), but if I’m with anyone I can now ID it thanks to whatsthatbug!  Best, Tom

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