Great Golden Digger Wasp

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Overview

The great golden digger wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus, is one of the larger thread-waisted wasps in North America. They track down and capture crickets, grassphoppers and katydids for their larvae. This wasp is beneficial although they may dig several holes in an aggregation in open compact soil.

Identification

Great golden digger wasps are large, over an inch in length, with a black head and thorax covered with short golden hair. Half of the rear of their abdomen is black and their legs are reddish-orange.

When these large wasps fly, they make a rustling sound. They are solitary wasps that tend to dig nests in the same soil area forming aggregations rather than social nests.

Biology

This wasp nests in the ground in open sandy areas with compact soil. Lots of plants nearby provide nector for the adult wasps. Often found in parks, gardens, fields and where sunlight is strong.

These wasps only sting in self defense and do not defend their nests. They are solitary wasps that although look menacing due to their size, are not aggressive.

They use the venom in their sting to paralyze prey items such as katydids and then dig a hole, drag the prey inside, lay an egg on the victum and close up the nest entrance. The main tunnel branches off into several side chambers where the wasp stores multiple prey.

Control

Since this wasp is beneficial and not a pest, there is no reason to use pesticides. Take the opportunity to watch and learn about their behavior and do not be concerned about being stung.

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