Subject: Red wasp with bright blue wings
Location: Loon Lake, CA — near Tahoe in El Dorado National Forest, very close to the lake
September 2, 2012 12:01 pm
This bright, beautiful little critter completely surprised me – I’ve never seen anything quite like this! I’d love to know what it was.
We are nearly certain that this is a Spider Wasp, Tachypompilus unicolor, though some details are difficult to discern in your photograph. The wasp appears to be searching the ground, which is a major factor in our identification as Spider Wasps hunt spiders in this manner, especially since they prey upon Wolf Spiders to feed their young. You may refer to BugGuide for additional information, including that the preferred habitat is : “Varied, but they are usually found in open habitats.”
I really appreciate the ID! Yes, it was down on the gravel-y ground, a few feet from the lake in one direction, and about 20 feet from a pine forest the other direction. I only saw it on the ground for about a minute, and then it flew away.
Update: June 4, 2020
Based on comments that have been submitted, we are correcting this posting, identifying the insect as an Ichneumon.