Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
This is a large and varied assortment of solitary wasps consisting of several families. When at rest, the wings of these wasps do not appear pleated (unlike Vespid wasps). They all possess stingers, which are used for self-defense and to paralyze prey. Sphecid wasps visit many kinds of wildflowers. Astatinae (Astatinine Wasps): These wasps prey on stinkbugs; they are not common flower visitors. Bembicinae (Sand Wasps): These stout wasps dig burrows in loose soil, and often nest gregariously. They are yellowish or tan wasps with brown or black markings, particularly on the abdomen. They prey on flies, small bees, plant bugs, or caterpillars. One species, Sphecius speciosus, preys on cicadas and is known as the "Cicada Killer." Crabroninae (Crabronine Wasps): These wasps usually prey on flies, although some prey on plant bugs. Important groups include Anacrabro spp., Crabro spp., Ectemnius spp., and Oxybelus spp. Larrinae (Larrine Wasps): Important groups in this family are Tachytes and Tachysphex spp. (Sand-Loving wasps), which prey on grasshoppers, and Ancistromma spp., which prey on crickets. Many of these species favor open sandy areas, and dig extensive burrows for the brood cells. Philanthinae (Philanthine Wasps, Bee Wolves Beetle Wasps): The Philanthus spp. are black with yellow markings, and are called "Bee Wolves." They attack worker bees (often Halictid bees), which they paralyze and carry back to the nest. Another important group consists of the Cerceris and Eucerceris spp., which attack the larvae of various weevils and beetles. They are large-sized, brown, with cream markings or stripes, and dig nests in the ground around their prey. Sphecinae (Sphecine Wasps): These wasps are small to large-sized, black, brown, or blue, with white or yellow markings. They usually construct nests underground, but some species make tunnel-like mud nests, which are affixed to rocks, buildings, and other protected places. Important groups are the slender Ammophila spp. (Thread-Waisted Wasps), which prey on moth and sawfly larvae; Chlorion spp. (Cricket-Hunter Wasps), which prey on crickets; Sceliphron spp. (Mud Daubers), which prey on spiders; and Prionyx and Sphex spp. (Digger Wasps), which prey on grasshoppers. An example of the latter is Sphex ichneumonea (Great Golden Digger Wasp).