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*** Note: KnowYourInsects.org does its best to include correct identifications of insect photos. It’s always possible that we made a mistake, however, so if you see a misidentification, please contact us and we will correct it. Thanks!

Order Hymenoptera: the bees, wasps, hornets and ants — Examples

Families represented below:
Andrenidae Apidae Argidae Braconidae Cimbicidae Chrysididae Crabronidae Encyrtidae
Formicidae Gasteruptiidae Halictidae Ichneumonidae Leucospidae Megachilidae Mutillidae Pelecinidae
Pompilidae Scoliidae Siricidae Sphecidae Tenthredinidae Thynnidae Tiphiidae Vespidae

Ichneumonidae, the ichneumon wasps

Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The female giant ichneumon wasp has a body that is about 2 inches (5 cm) long, not counting her ovipositor (the “tail”).
Photographed and identified by: Paula Long. Location: Manchester, Maryland, USA. Date: 8 September, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This species of giant ichneumon wasp has a pattern of vivid yellow striping on a brick-red body. Besides the body, shown here, it had a very long ovipositor. See the photographer’s comment below.
Photographed by: Laurie Stenwall. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Date: 9 April, 2018.
Laurie says, “It was HUGE. I would estimate the body was about 2 inches, but overall more like 5 or 6 inches.”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The giant ichneumon wasp uses her long ovipositor (the “tail”) to probe dead wood for the larvae of horntails, and she lays her eggs in the larvae. See the photographer’s comment below.
Photographed by: Paul Aquilina. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Date: 13 June, 2019.
Paul says, “About 3.5 inches long but that lo-o-o-o-ong posterior prong! Quite docile, for it let me get within a few inches to get the snap while it rested on phlox leaves. But maybe it was just cold as overnight temp was down to 14C.”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The inset close-up shows that the ovipositor of the giant ichneumon wasp is actually made up of three filaments.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: David Rosencrans. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: East Helena, Montana, USA. Date: 12 July, 2019.
David says, “We usually have about four or more a day on our dead tree. They seem to like the north side.”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The close-up of a giant ichneumon wasp gives a nice view of the beautiful pattern on this female’s thorax.
□ The female uses her antennae to check out the surface of a tree — almost walking her antennae over the tree trunk — for the purpose of finding tiny tunnels that may house the larvae of horntails. She lays her eggs in those tunnels.
Photographed and identified by: Hank Blair and Ivan Son. Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Date: 4 June, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ When the female giant ichneumon wasp is ready to lay her eggs, she rolls up part of her long ovipositor (the egg-laying structure that looks like a thin “tail”) into a see-through pouch, as seen here. She then pokes the end of the ovipositor into the bark, and by unrolling the ovipositor, she is able to extend it deep into the bark. She lays her eggs once she reaches the perfect spot.
Photographed and identified to family by: Dawnn Eldredge. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Edina, Minnesota, USA. Date: 6 June, 2020.
Dawnn says, “Have these fascinating wasps on my tree laying eggs.”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This female giant ichneumon wasp is extending her ovipositor from its coil in the pouch on the top side of her abdomen, and a small hole she has discovered on this tree. She will lay her eggs in the larva of a horntail.
Photographed and identified by: Rebecca Cossette. Location: Naugatuck, Connecticut, USA. Date: 7 June, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ Check out the length of the tail in this giant ichneumon wasp.
Photographed and identified by: Rod Russell. Location: Wheatland, Wyoming, USA. Date: 15 June, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ Researchers in 2020 developed a surgical device based on the egg-laying structure of wasps. This structure, called an ovipositor, is quite long in the giant ichneumon wasp.
Photographed and identified by: Gloria Soja. Location: East Helena, Montana. Date: 2 July, 2020.
Gloria says, “Way different than anything I’ve seen before.”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Mark Moyer. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, USA. Date: 9 July, 2020.
Mark says, “Spotted taking a lengthy break on my patio decking.”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ All three sections of the long ovipositor on this female giant ichneumon wasp are shown extending from her rear end and searching for entries into the wood. The central section is used to lay her eggs.
Photographed by: Jennifer Hayes. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Bay Shore, New York, USA. Date: 11 July, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This species of giant ichneumon wasp may have a little of the brown markings on its wings, or a lot (as seen here).
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Ashley Moss. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Colorado, USA. Date: 8 September, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
Photographed and identified by: Taylor Wilson. Location: Winchester, Indiana, USA. Date: 27 September, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa macrurus)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa macrurus, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
Photographed and identified by: Luciano "Wieslaw" Burdzy. Location: Whippany New Jersey, USA. Date: 28 September, 2020.
Insect facts
The long thin “tail” on many ichneumon wasps is an egg-laying structure called an ovipositor, so it is a good way to tell a female from a male. Some species have especially long ovipositors, because the female lays her eggs within a tree trunk, sometimes an inch or more deep. The egg moves down the ovipositor, which is basically a tube, to reach its destination.
Western Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni)
Western giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa nortoni, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The body of this western giant ichneumon wasp is 1-1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm) long, but the ovipositor on the female (seen here) is about twice as long as the body.
Photographed by: Ryan Hendrick. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Allegheny, Sierra County, California, USA. Date: 23 May, 2020.
Western Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni)
Western giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa nortoni, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The western giant ichneumon wasp has a long and thin abdomen that is decorated with yellow spots. Sometimes the spots are oval in shape, and sometimes they have more of a hexagonal appearance.
Photographed by: James and Kathleen Cotten. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Camano Island, Washington, USA. Date: 25 June, 2020.
The photographer says, “Discovered this today and was really surprised. Lived all around Washington state and never in my life have I seen anything like this!”
Western Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni)
Western giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa nortoni, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ Another helpful identifying feature of the western giant ichneumon wasp is its long yellow legs.
Photographed and identified by: Bob Cain. Location: Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA. Date: 9 August, 2020.
Bob spotted this wasp, “making its way up on our porch pillar.”
Western Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni)
Western giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa nortoni, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The western giant ichneumon wasp is also known as Norton’s giant ichneumon wasp, in tribute to 19th-century U.S. entomologist Edward Norton. Norton had a particular interest in sawflies (family Cimbicidae, shown elsewhere on this page).
□ This species was purposely introduced to New Zealand in the 1960s to help kill European wood wasps (Sirex noctilio) which had become a pest in pine plantations.
Photographed by: Casey King. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Cascade Mountains, Oregon, USA. Date: 27 July, 2020.
Casey says, “That ovipositor is pretty intimidating!”
Add your photo here! Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa greenei)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa greenei, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ Many species of giant ichneumon wasps have similar black and yellow markings on a red background. All but Megarhyssa greenei (shown here) have dark smudging around the basal wing vein, which is the diagonal vein just about in the center of the wing.
Megarhyssa greenei has a long ovipositor, but not quite as long as that of other species.
Photographed and identified to order by: Tiffany Godden. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Williamsburg, Michigan, USA. Date: 14 June, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa atrata)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa atrata, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This series of photos of a giant ichneumon wasp shows the black-and-yellow legs, the yellow stripe on the thorax, and (at lower right) the row of yellow spots on the underside of her abdomen.
□ The photo at left also reveals that her long, thin ovipositor is made up of more than one structure, as can be seen at its tip.
Photographed and identified to family by: Ryan Aguas. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Harriman, New York, USA. Date: 4 June, 2020.
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa atrata)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa atrata, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This female giant ichneumon wasp has yellow antennae; the male of this species has dark-brown antennae.
□ These photos show the female giant ichneumon wasp laying eggs with her long ovipositor (the multi-stranded “tail”). In these photos, the strands of the ovipositor stretch up above the wasp before plunging down into the wood. She uses the ovipositor to probe into the wood and lay eggs in the larvae of pidgeon horntails, which bore into dead wood, including stumps (as shown here).
Photographed by: Brian Lovins. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Falling Waters, West Virginia, USA. Date: 11 August, 2018.
Brian saw it on a stump in his backyard. He says, “She was really cool.”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa atrata)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa atrata, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The body of the giant ichneumon wasp is about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long, so it is a large wasp. The antennae are another inch (2.5 cm) long. And the ovipositor (shown here coiled in a see-through sac) can be yet another 4 inches (10 cm) in length. Quite an amazing sight!
Photographed and identified by: Heather Lewitt. Location: Chattooga River Trail at the Georgia/South Carolina border, USA. Date: 26 April, 2020.
Heather says, “We watched for a while, took this picture then the circular part at the back slowly disappeared leaving just a really long tail. Was very interesting!”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa atrata)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa atrata, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This giant ichneumon wasp gave the photographer a bit of a scare (see her comment below), but she kept her head and grabbed a camera. Nicely done!
Photographed by: Renee Augusta Ruliera. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Southborough, Massachusetts, USA. Date: 30 July, 2020.
Renee says, “I was outside when I heard this insect approaching just by the sound of it flying!! Needless to say, I panicked as I often do with most insects and took the photo from the safety of my home :-)”
Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa atrata)
Giant ichneumon wasp, female, Megarhyssa atrata, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This giant ichneumon wasp shows up nicely against the John Deere green!
Photographed by: Mark Johnson. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Sodus, New York, USA. Date: 15 August, 2020.
Ichneumon Wasp (Megarhyssa spp.)
Ichneumon wasp in the genus Megarhyssa, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This photo shows the full length of the ovipositor on this female ichneumon wasp. The photo, however, does not have sufficient detail to determine the species.
Photographed by: Kathy Anderson. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: northeastern Wisconsin, USA. Date: 4 September, 2017.
Kathy says, “Insect photographed on window.... With tail, approximately 6 inches long.”
Giant Ichenumon Wasp (Megarhyssa spp.)
Giant ichneumon wasp, male, genus Megarhyssa, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This male ichneumon wasp has black-smudged yellow femora, and intricate yellow striping on its head and thorax.
Photographed and identified by: Kathryn Carter. Location: southeastern Michigan, USA. Date: May 2020.
Sabre Wasp (Rhyssa persuasoria)
Sabre wasp, also known as a giant ichneumon wasp, female, Rhyssa persuasoria, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This photograph of a sabre wasp in Scotland shows a dorsal (top) view of this insect. For a side view, see the other photos of this species that are shown elsewhere on this page.
Photographed by: Margeo. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Bonnyrigg, Scotland. Date: 22 May, 2019.
Margeo says, “I’ve been trying for the past 2 months to try and find out what it was 😂.”
Sabre Wasp (Rhyssa persuasoria)
Sabre wasp, also known as a giant ichneumon wasp, female, Rhyssa persuasoria, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ A member of the ichneumon wasp family, this large sabre wasp can reach a body length of 4 cm (1.6 inches) long. The ovipositor on the female (shown here) can be more than double the length of her body. The adult female pokes her ovipositor through dead wood and into the body of a larva of a horntail or one of the long-horned beetles, which serve as a nest for her eggs... and the eventual meal for her young once they hatch.
Photographed by: Douglas Raugh. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Viernheim, state of Hesse, Germany. Date: 1 August, 2018.
Doug says, “I have never seen one like this.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “She’s a beauty!”
Sabre Wasp (Rhyssa persuasoria)
Sabre wasp, also known as a giant ichneumon wasp, female, Rhyssa persuasoria, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This photo of a female sabre wasp shows the series of white spots that run the entire length of her body from her head to the end of her abdomen. The red legs are also a feature of this large wasp.
Photographed by: John Carter. Submitted and identified by: Julia Davey. Location: Yorkshire near Ilkley, England, UK. Date: 3 June, 2020.
Sabre Wasp (Rhyssa persuasoria)
Sabre wasp, also known as a giant ichneumon wasp, female, Rhyssa persuasoria, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The sabre wasp was introduced into England from New Zealand back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, because they parasitize certain wood wasps (Sirex noctilio) that damage pine trees. As those wood wasps have expanded their range to South America, sabre wasps have also been released in Brazil to control them.
Photographed and identified by: Lynn Jafri. Location: Newton Mearns, Glasgow, Scotland. Date: 23 June, 2019.
Lynn says, “Had this on my washing line.”
Sabre Wasp (Rhyssa persuasoria)
Sabre wasp, also known as a giant ichneumon wasp, female, Rhyssa persuasoria, subfamily Rhyssinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The sabre wasp lays her eggs (using her long ovipositor) in wood wasp larvae that live inside tree trunks, so how does she find the larvae? Researchers back 1970 solved the riddle: The female is able to detect the frass (the feces) of the wood wasp larvae, and using that cue, find the larvae.
Photographed and identified by: Carl Adamson. Location: Kielder Water, England. Date: 29 July, 2020.
Ichneumon wasp (Cryptus albitarsis)
Ichneumon wasp, female, Cryptus albitarsis, subfamily Cryptinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The orange-red abdomen shows up well on this ichneumon wasp. The female (shown) has a long, straight, black ovipositor. She lays her eggs on (eventually killing) the caterpillars of a variety of common agricultural pests, such as the caterpillars of corn earworm moths (Helicoverpa zea) and the Oriental fruit moths (Grapholita molesta), so it is considered a beneficial wasp.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Sarah Bozarth. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Commerce Township, Michigan, USA. Date: 18 October, 2019.
Ichneumon wasp (Agonocryptus discoidaloides)
Ichneumon wasp, female, possibly Agonocryptus discoidaloides, subfamily Cryptinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This species of ichneumon wasp (Agonocryptus discoidaloides) has two white spots on its back, a striped abdomen, orange legs, and a prominent white band on each antenna. A definitive identification, however, is always difficult with ichneumon wasps.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Crystal Pittman. Tentatively identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Date: 5 June, 2020.
Crystal said this wasp visited her bathroom.
Ichneumon wasp (Messatoporus discoidalis)
Ichneumon wasp, female, possibly Messatoporus discoidalis, subfamily Cryptinae, family Ichneumonidae.
Messatoporus discoidalis has close-set, thin white bands on its abdomen, a large white band on otherwise black antennae, and orange and yellow legs. Like other icheumon wasps, this is a parasitoid with females laying their eggs on spider wasps in the family Pompilidae (they are called spider wasps because they sting, paralyze and prey on spiders).
Photographed and identified as an ichneumon wasp by: May Martin. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Date: 11 October, 2020.
May says, “Saw this little beauty on a tomato plant.”
Ichneumon wasp (Lymeon orbus)
Ichneumon wasp, Lymeon orbus, subfamily Cryptinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This female ichneumon wasp is pretty in black and white stripes. Its pattern and color are somewhat similar to the Amphirhachis species of ichneumon wasp elsewhere on this page. The Amphirhachis, however, was photographed in India, and this one was photographed in the United States.
Photographed and identified to order by: Dalton Reynolds. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: near Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. Date: 19 June, 2019.
Dalton says, “My wife had told me she thought it was a mosquito.... Never have seen an insect like this. (To me,) it looks like a type of wasp.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Nice identification, Dalton!”
Ichneumon wasp (Amphirhachis spp.)
Ichneumon wasp likely in the genus Amphirhachis, subfamily Banchinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ These two photos show a top and bottom view of this pretty black and white ichneumon wasp.
Photographed by: Neeraj Kumar. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: India. Date: 15 June, 2018.
Ichenumon Wasp (Pimplini spp)
Ichneumon wasp, female, possibly in the genus Pimplini, subfamily Pimplinae, family Ichneumonidae.
Ichneumon wasps in the genus Pimplini are sometimes called banded-abdomen ichneumon wasps, and many of them do have thin white bands along the abdomen. The photographer found this one dead in her house.
Photographed by: Jessica Linnell. Identified to tentative genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. Date: 14 January, 2020.
Yellow Ichenumon Wasp (Xanthopimpla punctata)
Yellow ichneumon wasp, female, Xanthopimpla punctata, subfamily Pimplinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The genus of this yellow ichneumon wasp includes the word “xantho,” which means yellow in Greek.
□ This wasp is considered beneficial, because the female lays her eggs in other insects, notably some agricultural pests. The eggs hatch, and the larvae then feast on the pests as they grow.
Photographed and identified to order by: Meem Sarkar. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Siliguri, West Bengal, India. Date: 15 October, 2017.
Meem describes this wasp as “a magnificent insect, although deadly by its appearance.”
Cream-Spotted Ichenumon Wasp (Echthromorpha intricatoria)
Cream-spotted ichneumon, female, Echthromorpha intricatoria, subfamily Pimplinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The cream-spotted ichneumon is decorated with small whitish spots, has orange legs, orange to yellow antennae, and a pair of black spots — one large and round, and one narrow — on each forewing. It is a common wasp in Australia and New Zealand.
Photographed and identified to order by: Tanya Wade. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Patterson Lakes, Victoria, Australia. Date: 30 June, 2021.
Tanya spotted this wasp “right near the Wannarkladdin Wetlands.”
Ichenumon Wasp (Arotes decorus)
Ichneumon wasp, female, Arotes decorus, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This species of ichneumon wasp has honey-yellow femorae (“thighs”) on its hind legs, black-tipped wings, and a black-and-white banded abdomen. This wasp can be found in the middle to northeastern United States, and has now spread south to Florida.
Photographed by: Matt Silvola. Submitted and identified to family by: Hugh OConnor. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, USA. Date: 10 July, 2020.
Ichenumon Wasp (Vulgichneumon brevicinctor)
Ichneumon wasp, female, Vulgichneumon brevicinctor, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ In this species of ichneumon wasp, the white band on each of the two antenna is closer to the head in the female than in the male. The white antennal band, along with the white spot on the scutellum (the tiny section at the rear of the thorax) and the white spot at the tip of the abdomen, help to identify this species.
Photographed by: L. Parks. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Kansas, USA. Date: 1 September, 2020.
Ichenumon Wasp (Vulgichneumon brevicinctor)
Ichneumon wasp, Vulgichneumon brevicinctor, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The photographer provided an excellent description of this ichneumon wasp: “About 1/2-inch-long black body with a prominent yellow/whitish dot on back and on tip of its abdomen; a short similarly coloured stripe mid-antennae; and a dot on bottom of back legs where they attach to the body.”
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Kv Zichi. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Port Hope, Michigan, USA. Date: 20 October, 2017.
Kv adds, “Quite pretty actually!”
Ichenumon Wasp (Ichneumonini tribe)
Ichneumon wasp in the tribe Ichneumonini, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This shows a typical pattern of ichneumon wasps in the tribe Ichneumonini: yellow legs with dark markings, a yellow scutellum, and bands on the abdomen.
Photographed and identified to order by: Valerie Shotwell. Identified to tribe by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Bend, Oregon, USA. Date: 30 July, 2020.
Valerie found several on the zucchini plants in her garden.
Ichenumon Wasp (Amblyteles armatorius)
Ichneumon wasp, male, Amblyteles armatorius, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This ichneumon wasp was taking mass transit — see the comment below.
Photographed by: Tim Joyce. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, England, UK. Date: 20 October, 2017.
Tim says, “It was actually on an underground train where it caused some commotion as it flew up and down the carriage.” He adds, “It was about 3/4 of an inch or 2 cm long, flew reasonably quickly.”
Ichenumon Wasp (Amblyteles armatorius)
Ichneumon Wasp, Amblyteles armatorius, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ In most of the other ichneumon wasp species, the females have a long, thin “tail” that is actually an egg-laying structure called an ovipositor (which literally means egg depositor), but the female of this species (Amblyteles armatorius) is unusual in that she does not have that feature.
Photographed by: Sheena Beena. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Warmsworth, England, UK. Date: 15 October, 2019.
Ichenumon Wasp (Amblyteles armatorius)
Ichneumon wasp, Amblyteles armatorius, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This ichneumon wasp has a pair of yellow bands across its abdomen, yellow legs with black markings, and although not visible in this photo, a yellow scutellum (a small triangular-shaped area at the rear of its thorax).
Photographed by: William Carpmael. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, England, UK. Date: 8 June, 2020.
Ichenumon Wasp (Amblyjoppa fuscipennis)
Ichneumon wasp, Amblyjoppa fuscipennis, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This ichneumon wasp has an orange abdomen — quite broad for this family — as well as a black head and thorax, mostly yellow legs, and a light yellow spot at the rear of the thorax. Some individuals in this species may be 2.5 cm (1 inch) long, but this one was a bit smaller at about 1.9 cm (0.75 inches).
Photographed by: Kath Horton. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Derbyshire, UK. Date: 3 August, 2019.
Ichenumon Wasp (Ichneumon stramentor)
Ichneumon wasp, male, Ichneumon stramentor, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The female of this species of ichneumon wasp has a little yellow tip to the end of her tail and a white band halfway down the antennae. This specimen lacks either, so it is a male. The photographer describes this 4-5 cm wasp (nearly 2 inches) as: “looks like a crane fly married with a wasp.”
Photographed by: Clara Baardman-Ferron. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ede, The Netherlands. Date: 23 June, 2020.
Clara spotted this one near a small lake surrounded with three-story-high tulip trees (liriodendron tulipifera). She says, “I had my window open, and three came flying in right away.” 
Ichenumon Wasp (Ichneumon spp.)
Ichneumon wasp in the genus Ichneumon, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This ichneumon wasp has wide yellow bands on its abdomen. It looks similar to the species Ichneumon annulatorius, which is more common in the eastern United States. This one, however, was photographed in Washington state.
Photographed and identified by: Mary Skelton. Location: Olympia, Washington, USA. Date: 19 June, 2020.
Ichneumon wasp (Trogus pennator)
Ichneumon wasp in the genus Trogus, likely Trogus pennator, subfamily Ichneumoninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ Compared to many other ichneumon wasps, those in the genus Trogus have shorter abdomens with rounded (rather than pointed) tips. Other features of Trogus species include reddish bodies, dark wings and dark-tipped antennae.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 31 October, 2017.
Add your photo here! Ichneumon wasp (Therion spp.)
Ichneumon wasp, female, in the genus Therion, subfamily Anomaloninae, family Ichneumonidae.
Ichneumon wasps in this genus (Therion) are considered beneficial: the females use their short ovipositor to lay their eggs in caterpillars of fall webworm moths (Hyphantria cunea) and other “pest” moths. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat and eventually kill the caterpillars.
Photographed by: Faye Shambaugh. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Mifflin/Ashland, Ohio, USA. Date: 16 September, 2019.
Ichneumon wasp (Therion spp.)
Ichneumon wasp, female, in the genus Therion, subfamily Anomaloninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ A characteristic of ichneumon wasps in this genus (Therion) is the long, thin, red-and-black abdomen that is thinnest toward the front. Many in this genus also have banded legs (as seen in this one).
Photographed by: Mary Skelton. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Olympia, Washington, USA. Date: 5 July, 2020.
Mary says, “Very wispy insect.”
Ichneumon wasp (Therion spp.)
Ichneumon wasp, in the genus Therion, subfamily Anomaloninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This colorful ichneumon wasp has an abdomen that is red at the front and black at the rear; red, black and yellow banded legs; and ombrĂ© antennae that gradually shift from orange at the base to butter-yellow at the tips.
Photographed by: Tyler Oberding. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Canada. Date: around 2017.
Ichneumon wasp (Heteropelma amictum)
Ichneumon wasp, Heteropelma amictum, subfamily Anomaloninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This colorful ichneumon wasp has orange antennae that fade to yellow at the tips, a black head and thorax, orange-red abdomen with yellow tip, and hind legs with yellow tarsi (the “feet”).
Photographed by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ivybridge, Devon, England, UK. Date: 2 August, 2018.
Ichneumon wasp (Anomalon spp.)
Ichneumon wasp in the genus Anomalon, female, subfamily Anomaloninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This series of photos of an Anomalon ichneumon wasp — just 11 mm long — provides an exceptional view of this wasp. The photo at left shows the yellow spot at the tip of the abdomen and the wings that barely reach halfway down the abdomen. The center photo gives detail of that spectacular face complete with the closeup up of the jaws. The right photo affords a view of the yellow markings on the underside of the abdomen.
Photographed and identified to genus by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size images here, here and here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 26 June, 2020.
Thomas says, “Now you have a mate for the male I sent to you.” (See it in the next photos.)
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Ichneumon wasp (Anomalon spp.)
Ichneumon wasp in the genus Anomalon, male, subfamily Anomaloninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ Species in this genus of ichneumon wasp (Anomalon) often have thin, yellow rings around their eyes, as seen here. Note also the short wings, which extend only about halfway down the abdomen.
□ These are small wasps, and the photographer estimated this one to be 11 mm (0.4 inches) long.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 13 August, 2019.
Ichneumon wasp (subfamily Anomaloninae)
Ichneumon Wasp, possibly in the subfamily Anomaloninae, family Ichneumonidae.
Ichneumon wasps in this subfamily (Anomaloninae) have wings that only reach about halfway down the abdomen. These photos show the bottom and side views.
Photographed by: Allison Olexa. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA. Date: 5 June, 2020.
Ichneumon wasp, Odontocolon ochropus
Ichneumon wasp, female, possibly Odontocolon ochropus, subfamily Xoridinae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The ovipositor of an ichneumon wasp is comprised of three filaments: the middle filament for drilling into wood and laying eggs; and the other two to protect that central egg-laying filament. The central filament is slightly thickened toward the end, as seen here.
Photographed and identified as an ichneumon wasp by: M. Popitz, M.D. Location: Marion, Massachusetts, USA. Date: 22 October, 2016.
Dr. Popitz says, “The wasp is approximately 1-1.2 cm.”
Short-Tailed Ichenumon wasp (Ophion spp.)
Short-tailed ichneumon wasp, female, possibly in the genus Ophion, subfamily Ophioninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The “short-tailed” part of the short-tailed ichneumon wasp’s name comes from the size of the female’s ovipositor (egg-laying structure at the end of her abdomen), which is much shorter than most ichneumon wasps.
Photographed by: Alicesha Osbourne. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Newfoundland, Canada. Date: 8 October, 2019.
Short-Tailed Ichenumon wasp (Ophion spp.)
Short-tailed ichneumon wasp, female, in the genus Ophion, subfamily Ophioninae, family Ichneumonidae.
□ The small, oblong, orangish spot in the middle of the leading edge of each forewing, seen in the right wing of this short-tailed ichneumon wasp, is called a pterostigma. The color and location of pterostigma can help to identify some species.
□ One of the photographers asked if ichneumon wasps sting, and the answer is no. The females in some species in this family (shown elsewhere on this page) have a long “tail” that looks like a stinger, but it is an egg-laying structure called an ovipositor and not designed for stinging people.
Photographed and identified to family by: Andrea and Ivy Martin. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Riverside, Washington, USA. Date: 25 April, 2020.
Andrea says, “My 6-year-old daughter loves insects, particularly flies or other flying insects. Today we found a new insect she has never seen before.... My daughter Ivy is nonstop insect, she said she wants to be an ant when she grows up lol.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Go, Ivy!”
Ichenumon wasp (Thyreodon atricolor)
Ichneumon wasp, male, Thyreodon atricolor, subfamily Ophioninae, family Ichneumonidae (the ichneumon wasps).
□ This ichneumon wasp is black with yellow to orange antennae, and an expanded section at the end of its petiole (the “waist” at the front of the abdomen). Females of this species lay their eggs in the caterpillars of hawk moths. The ovipositor of the female is quite short and not always easily seen, so the sex of this individual is unknown.
Photographed and identified to family by: Joan Lovell. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Green Mountain National Forest, Searsburg, Vermont, Maryland, USA. Date: 29 August, 2020.
Ichenumon wasp (Ichneumonidae)
Ichneumon wasp, male, family Ichneumonidae (the ichneumon wasps), likely in either the subfamily Ophioninae or Tryphoninae family Ichneumonidae.
□ This ichneumon wasp may be a member of the genus Netelia, but a closer look at the pattern of the wing veins would be necessary to make a positive identification.
Photographed by: Lenny Knott. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Upper Marlboro, Maryland, USA. Date: 28 August, 2017.
Ichneumon wasp (Ichneumonidae)
Ichneumon wasp, female, family Ichneumonidae.
□ This is a female ichneumon wasp, which was found in a wooded area by a marsh/pond. Her ovipositor that this female ichneumon wasp is seen in the right-hand photo: It is the thin black line that extends down and to the right of the insect.
Photographed by: Jo-Ella Mullins. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fremont, Michigan, USA. Date: 10 July, 2016.
JoElla says, “Came face to face with this creature while picking wild blackberries on our property. I wanted the berries so I just waited to see what she was going to do.” She adds, “I swear it seemed to stare me down before flying away. She was very intimidating eye to eye!”

Gasteruptiidae, the gasteruptiid wasps
Leucospidae, the leucospid wasps


Gasteruptiid wasp (Gasteruption jaculator)
Gasteruptiid wasp (no common name), female, Gasteruption jaculator, subfamily Gasteruptiinae, family Gasteruptiidae.
□ This wasp has no common name, so is described by its family name as a Gasteruptiid wasp. The half-red/half-black abdomen, and long, white-tipped ovipositor extending from the rear is a characteristic feature of the female. She slides the ovipositor into tiny crevices and holes in bark so she lay her eggs next to the soft larva of a bee or another wasp. When the eggs hatch, her young eat the pollen and nectar near the larva, and also the larva itself. The male has a banded abdomen, and lacks the ovipositor.
□ As adults, this wasp is usually seen visiting flat-topped flowers of plants in the celery/carrot/parsley family (Apiaceae), as seen in these photos.
Photographed by: Sandra Silva. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Villemomble, near Paris, France. Date: 10 July, 2021.
Sandra says this is the first time she has seen this “peculiar, beautiful wasp.”
Add your photo here! Leucospid wasp (Leucospis leucotelus)
Leucospid wasp, female, Leucospis leucotelus, family Leucospidae.
□ This female leucospid wasp has a long ovipositor. When not in use, she holds her ovipositor flat against her back, and when she is ready to lay eggs, extends it into wood so she can deposit her eggs into the larvae of large carpenter bees (Xylocopa lateralis), as described in a 2019 research article. Once wasps hatch, the young will feed on the bee larvae. A nice video of a closely related wasp (albeit a different species) unfolding her ovipositor is available here. Photographed and identified by: Phil Smith (confirmed by Priscila GuimarĂŁes Dias of the Universidade Federal de Lavras, Brazil). Way to go, Phil! Location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Date: April 2019.
Phil says, “I thought the act of ovipositing was fascinating.”

Braconidae, the braconid wasps

Braconid wasp (Macrocentrus spp.)
Braconid wasp, female, in the genus Macrocentrus, subfamily Macrocentrinae, family Braconidae.
□ A number of braconid wasps in the genus Macrocentrus were introduced to the United States to battle a corn pest, specifically a moth called a European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis). The caterpillars European corn borers tunnel into the stalks of corn plants and the corn ears. The female wasp lays her eggs in the caterpillars — using the long stick-like ovipositor visible in this photo — and when the eggs hatch into larvae, the larvae eat the caterpillars.
Photographed by: Andrea Bennett. Location: Kimball, Nebraska, USA. Date: 7 October, 2019.
Braconid wasp (Meteorus spp.)
Braconid wasp larva, genus Meteorus, subfamily Meteorinae, family Braconidae.
Braconid wasps in the genus Meteorus are parasitoids, meaning that the female lays her eggs in a host animal, in this case a moth caterpillar. The eggs hatch into larvae and feast on the host’s innards, eventually killing it. When they get big enough, they emerge from the dead (or close-to-dead) host. This series of photos shows a larva emerging.
□ To see the emergence in a cool video, take a look at this video that photographer Thomas Langhans put together.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to family and genus (respectively) by: entomologists Lynn Kimsey of the University of California-Davis, and Michael Sharkey of the University of Kentucky. Thank you, Drs. Kimsey and Sharkey! Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 27 October, 2017.
Braconid wasp (Meteorus spp.)
Braconid wasp, genus Meteorus, subfamily Meteorinae, family Braconidae.
□ Once larvae of braconid wasps emerge from the caterpillar (as noted in the previous posting), they quickly become pupae. This photo shows many pupae (the ones wrapped in silky cocoons) and a few larvae (shinier and without cocoons).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to family and genus (respectively) by: entomologists Lynn Kimsey of the University of California-Davis, and Michael Sharkey of the University of Kentucky. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 27 October, 2017.
Braconid wasp (Meteorus spp.)
Braconid wasp, genus Meteorus, subfamily Meteorinae, family Braconidae.
□ These photos are of braconid wasps. The photo at left is a pair of empty pupae. Notice the “exit caps” lying next to the pupae: The adult wasps emerge through the uncapped openings. The center and right photos are top and bottom (dorsal and ventral) views of a newly emerged adult.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to family and genus (respectively) by: entomologists Lynn Kimsey of the University of California-Davis, and Michael Sharkey of the University of Kentucky. Thank you, Drs. Kimsey and Sharkey! See Thomas’s full-size images here, here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 11 November, 2017.
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Braconid wasp (Cotesia spp.)
Braconid wasp, female, in the genus Cotesia, subfamily Microgastrinae, family Braconidae.
□ This tiny braconid wasp, which has a large black pterostigma on each forewing, might be the species Cotesia marginiventris, which is found in California where these photo was taken.
□ Female braconid wasps in the genus Cotesia begin laying their eggs in moth’s caterpillars just a couple of days after they become adults.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here (in its original horizontal orientation), here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 27 September, 2020.
Thomas says, “About 3 mm long from the top of the head to the end of the abdomen and never stopped moving.”
Aphid mummy wasp (Aphidiinae)
Braconid wasp, possibly an aphid mummy wasp, subfamily Aphidiinae, family Braconidae.
□ Sometimes with these tiny wasps, the prey helps identify the wasps. The prey of this one is unknown, but if it was an aphid, it might be an aphid mummy wasp. They get that common name because females prey on aphids, using the aphid’s dead bodies as nurseries for their young.
Photographed and identified to family by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to tentative subfamily by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 27 September, 2020.
Thomas says, “About 2 mm long not measuring the antenna.”

Pelecinidae, pelecinid wasps

Pelecinid wasp, Pelecinus polyturator
Pelecinid wasp, female, Pelecinus polyturator, family Pelecinidae.
□ It is a special pleasure to have the photo of this pelecinid wasp because it is one of only three species in this family, and this particular species is the only member of the family to live in the United States. This is a female, as seen by her long, six-segmented abdomen (males have a shorter abdomen that has a club-shaped end.)
□ The female uses her long abdomen to poke through the soil and find a suitable host — often a beetle grub — for her young. She lays an egg on the host, and a larva hatches out and bores into the grub, which serves as the larva’s food source. This does kill the grub, but it is part of the wasp’s life cycle.
Photographed by: Lori Kvittem. Identified by: entomologist Lynn Kimsey, University of California-Davis. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey! Location: Coon Rapids, Minnesota, USA. Date: 22 July, 2016.
Lori also photographed it next to a penny to show size. From the tip of the head to the end of the abdomen, it is estimated about about 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) long.
Add your photo here! Add your photo here!

Scoliidae, the scoliid wasps

Mammoth Wasp (Megascolia maculata)
Mammoth wasp, male and female, Megascolia maculata, subfamily Scoliinae, family Scoliidae.
□ The male and female mammoth wasp differ in appearance. The male, shown at left, has a black head, and yellow antennae. The female (center and right) has a yellow head, shorter orange/brown antennae, and an overall larger body. Both sexes may have either one or two yellow bands across their abdomen, or either two or four yellow spots on abdomen. In these photos, the male has two spots, and the female has four.
Photographed and identified by: Ben Hassine Thameur. Location: Cape Bon, northeast of Tunisia. Date: 23 April, 2021.
Thameur says these wasps appear every April.
Mammoth Wasp (Megascolia maculata)
Mammoth wasp, female, Megascolia maculata, subfamily Scoliinae, family Scoliidae.
□ Aptly named the mammoth wasp, this female is 5-6 cm (2-2.4 inches) long. The male is smaller and has a black head. If the size of this female isn’t enough to get your attention, the yellow (sometimes orange) head, yellow markings on the abdomen, and definitely the large jaws should make you take a second look. Nonetheless, it appears to be a gentle giant that shows no aggression to humans.
□ Like a number of wasps, the female mammoth wasp lays her eggs inside the larvae of other insects, so that when they hatch, they can eat the larvae. In this case, the female mammoth wasp lays her eggs in the large larvae (grubs) of rhinoceros beetles (to see the adult and grubs of the rhinoceros beetle, click here).
Photographed by: Amanda Goodwin. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Jesus Pobre, Alicante, Spain. Date: 8 June, 2020.
Amanda says, “I am glad I managed to rescue it from the pool, though I feel sorry for the beetle as they are hard to find nowadays.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Great job on the rescue!”
Scoliid Wasp (Megascolia spp.)
Mammoth wasp, Megascolia maculata, subfamily Scoliinae, family Scoliidae.
Mammoth wasps and others species in this genus (Megascolia) are large and solitary insects, so they don’t live in large groups as many other bees and wasps do.
Photographed by: Ben Hassine Thameur. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Cape Bon, Tunisia, north Africa. Date: 20 April, 2020.
Thameur says, “Your interactive website is very useful for us.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “We are happy to be of help!”
Blue-Winged Wasp (Scolia dubia)
Blue-winged wasp, Scolia dubia, subfamily Scoliinae, family Scoliidae.
Blue-winged wasps are parasitoids: They lay their eggs in the grubs of Japanese Beetles (and sometimes the grubs of other beetles). When the eggs hatch, they eat the grub. For more information on this wasp, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Keith D. Lucente. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fairmont, West Virginia, USA. Date: 1 September, 2019.
Keith says, “For last month, hundreds of them (have been) flying about a foot off the ground.”
Scoliid Wasp (Colpa octomaculata)
Scoliid wasp, Colpa octomaculata (sometimes listed as Trielis octomaculata), subfamily Campsomerinae, family Scoliidae.
□ The species name of octomaculata means eight-spotted, and refers to the four pairs of large white spots on the abdomen of this scoliid wasp. Females are larger than males, and reach about 2/3 inches (1.5 cm) long. Note the considerable hairs on this wasp’s legs. The scoliid wasp females are parasitoids, laying their eggs in beetle larvae.
Photographed and identified to order by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Lady Lake, Florida, USA. Date: 18 May, 2018.
Scoliid Wasp, Campsomeriella thoracica
Scoliid Wasp, male, Campsomeriella thoracica, subfamily Scoliinae, family Scoliidae.
□ This scoliid wasp shows an interesting feature: a three-pronged pygidium. The pygidium is the posterior segment in insects. Most insects do not have those prongs. Thanks to the photographer for spotting this feature when he snapped the photo, and to Dr. Matt Buffington, a research entomologist with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory (Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture) for the description. Dr. Buffington noted that the pygidium (also called a pygidial plate) is also a distinguishing feature of the closely related Tiphiidae family of wasps.
Photographed by: Michael Dubai. Identified by: Dr. Mario Boni Bartalucci, Entomologia, Museo Zoologico “La Specola” (the Museum of Zoology and Natural History in Florence, Italy). Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Date: 20 May, 2020.
Michael says, “It had an orange-reddish color and two very distinct antenna.”

Thynnidae, the thynnid wasps, (sometimes classified within Tiphiidae)
Encyrtidae, the encyrtid wasps


Tiphiid wasp, Myzinum spp.
Tiphiid wasp, female, in the genus Myzinum, subfamily Myzininae, family Thynnidae.
□ Note: The Thynnidae family is sometimes classified as a subfamily (Thynninae) rather than a separate family. In this case, this tiphiid wasp is grouped under the family (Tiphiidae) instead.
Photographed by: Dawn Scarmeas. Identified by: entomologist Lynn Kimsey, University of California-Davis. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey! Location: Thomas Township, near the Saginaw River, Michigan, USA. Date: 3 September, 2016.
Dawn says, “Saved him in the pool.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Your’re a hero, Dawn!”
Five-Banded Thynnid Wasp (Myzinum quinquecinctum)
Five-banded thynnid sasp, female, Myzinum quinquecinctum, subfamily Myzininae, family Thynnidae.
□ The five-banded thynnid wasp has a series of thin yellow bands on its abdomen. Gardeners often like to see this species, because the female lays her eggs in beetle grubs, which eventually kills the grubs. Note: The Thynnidae family is sometimes classified as a subfamily (Thynninae) of another family (Tiphiidae) instead.
Photographed by: Aria. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Spring Hill, Florida, USA. Date: 18 July, 2019.
Add your photo here! Encyrtid wasp (Leucospis leucotelus)
Encyrtid wasp, Comperia merceti, subfamily Encyrtinae, family Encyrtidae.
□ Like other members of this family, this encyrtid wasp is a parasitoid: The female wasp lays up to two dozen eggs inside cockroach egg cases, and the hatched wasp larvae then devour the eggs. In a month or two, the adult wasps emerge from the cockroach egg case.
□ According to entomologist Daniel Rubinoff, this wasp was introduced to Hawaii to control invasive cockroaches — it is one of several wasp species brought in for that purpose. To learn more, click here.
Photographed by: Christian Moratin. Identified by: entomologist Daniel Rubinoff of the University of Hawaiʻi Insect Museum (verified by entomologist colleague Mark Wright). Thank you Drs. Rubinoff and Wright! Location: Kaneohe, Hawaii. Date: August 2020.
Christian says, “This was a very tiny fellow, caught me off guard and was unprepared to take the photo.”

Evaniidae, the ensign wasps

Ensign wasp, Evaniidae
Ensign wasp, family Evaniidae.
Ensign wasps, sometimes called hatchet wasps, have exceptionally long hind legs that make them look rather like crickets. They are beneficial insects, because the larvae eat cockroach eggs!
Photographed by: Maureen Lerro. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Dallas/Fort Worth area, Texas, USA. Date: 2016.
Mauren says, “Have been trying to find out about this insect for over 3 years.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Glad we could help solve the mystery!”
Ensign Wasp (Evaniidae)
Ensign wasp, family Evaniidae.
□ The ensign wasp has a small abdomen that is attached to the thorax by a thin stalk called a petiole. The abdomen looks as if it is dangling from the petiole and has a somewhat triangular appearance reminiscent of a hatchet or flag/ensign. Click here (bugguide.net) to see a close-up of the petiole.
Photographed by: Larry B. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Essex, Maryland, USA. Date: 20 August, 2020.
Larry says, “ It’s just a little bigger than a house fly.”
Add your photo here! Add your photo here!

Siricidae, the horntails or wood wasps

Pigeon horntail (Tremex columba)
Pigeon horntail, female, Tremex columba, family Siricidae.
□ Most pigeon horntails have less red accents — brown instead — so this is a particularly pretty specimen.
Photographed by: Dawn Scarmeas. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Near the Tittabawassee River in Saginaw County, Michigan. Date: 22 July, 2016.
Dawn says, “Found it in my pool. I have never seen one before.”
Pigeon horntail (Tremex columba)
Pigeon horntail, female, Tremex columba, family Siricidae.
□ This particular pigeon horntail has a lot of yellow on its abdomen — quite beautiful! The photos provide a good view of the short, so-called “horn” of the horntail. The female also has a much longer ovipositor that she uses to lay eggs.
Photographed and identified to order by: Damon Good. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: northern Wyoming, USA. Date: 2 September, 2020.
Pigeon horntail (Tremex columba)
Pigeon horntail, female, Tremex columba, family Siricidae.
□ The “horntail” part of the name of the pigeon horntail and other horntails comes from a triangular plate on top of the rear of the abdomen (hard to see except from the side). The plate sticks up a bit, and that is what is called the horn.
Photographed by: Aaron Fortin. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Shelby Township, Macomb County, Michigan, USA. Date: 7 October, 2017.
Pigeon horntail (Tremex columba)
Pigeon horntail, female, Tremex columba, family Siricidae.
□ The long, spear-shaped “stinger” on the rear of this pigeon horntail is the ovipositor (egg-laying structure).
Photographed by: Nelson Amaral. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Date: 8 August, 2014.
Pigeon horntail (Tremex columba)
Pigeon horntail, female, Tremex columba, family Siricidae.
□ The pigeon horntail gets this common name from its scientific name: Tremex columba. It was named by famed taxonomist Carl Linnaeus (also known as Carl von LinnĂ©), but why he chose columba, which refers to genus name for pigeons, is unknown. Photographed by: Aaron Fortin. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Shelby Township, Macomb County, Michigan. Date: 7 October, 2017.
Pigeon horntail (Tremex columba)
Pigeon horntail, female, Tremex columba, family Siricidae.
□ This photo of a pigeon horntail shows just how large it is. This species is sometimes called a Pigeon Tremex. This and other members of this family can be distinguished by their cylindrical body shape, without the narrowing between the thorax and abdomen that is common to most other wasps.
Photographed by: Mark Cooper. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hilton, New York, USA. Date: 6 August, 2019.
Pigeon horntail (Tremex columba)
Pigeon horntail, female, Tremex columba, family Siricidae.
Photographed by: Shannon Moroz. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Date: 18 July, 2020.
Shannon says, “I have lived here all my life and have never seen one. Learn something new every day!”
Horntail (Urocerus albicornis)
Horntail, possibly Urocerus albicornis (no common name), family Siricidae.
Horntails are sometimes called wood wasps, because the females lay their eggs on trees, and the larvae chew into and tunnel through wood.
Photographed by: Kristen Webster. Identified to family by: entomologist Lynn Kimsey, University of California-Davis. Identified to possible species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Date: 22 July, 2016.
Kristen says, “It’s on a small play climber. I’d say a good inch in length.”
Giant wood wasp (Urocerus gigas)
Giant wood wasp, also known as a giant horntail or a greater horntail, Urocerus gigas, family Siricidae.
□ This giant wood wasp is one of the horntail wasps, so named because of the short “stinger” at the end of the abdomen. The female, shown here, also has a second structure called an ovipositor that she uses to lay eggs.
Photographed by: Neil Marriott. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Nottingham, UK. Date: 19 July, 2016.
Giant Wood Wasp or Greater Horntail, Urocerus gigas
Giant wood wasp, also known as a giant horntail or a greater horntail, female, Urocerus gigas, family Siricidae.
□ Giant is a good descriptor for this giant wood wasp, because it can grow to 4 cm (about 1.6 inches) long.
Photographed by: Katie Dales. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: East Yorkshire, England, UK. Date: 21 July, 2018.
Katie says, “ It was twice as big as a normal wasp.”
Giant Wood Wasp or Greater Horntail, Urocerus gigas
Giant wood wasp, also known as a giant horntail or a greater horntail, female, Urocerus gigas, family Siricidae.
□ The giant wood wasp has an enemy in ichneumon wasps, particularly the sabre wasp (Rhyssa persuasoria), which lays eggs in the larvae of wood wasps. Those eggs hatch out and the young eat the wood wasp larvae.
Photographed and identified by: Gervase Mangwana. Location: Herefordshire, UK. Date: 11 July, 2020.
Gervase says, “From your website I think it is a horntail. Maybe a greater wood wasp... Easily 60-70mm including tail.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “It is so cool when we learn from each other!”
Giant Wood Wasp or Greater Horntail, Urocerus gigas
Giant wood wasp, also known as a giant horntail or a greater horntail, female, Urocerus gigas, family Siricidae.
□ Female giant wood wasps lay their eggs in wood, especially dead, dying or injured spruce and fir trees that are in sunny locations.
Photographed and identified to order by: Heather Smith. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Innellan near Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland. Date: 21 July, 2018.
Heather says, “Using your website I had managed to work out it was likely to be a wasp or horntail but couldn’t work out which one. I would be more than happy for you to put the photo on the website.”
Giant Wood Wasp or Greater Horntail, Urocerus gigas
Giant wood wasp, also known as a giant horntail or a greater horntail, female, Urocerus gigas, family Siricidae.
□ The bright yellow of the back half of the abdomen is visible beneath the wings of this female giant wood wasp. See the comment below about its size.
Photographed by: Toby OMahony Adams. Submitted by: Eleanor Russell. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Galtee mountains, Tipperary, Republic of Ireland. Date: 17 July, 2020.
Eleanor says, “(Toby) said it was at least 5 cm in length.”
Giant Wood Wasp or Greater Horntail, Urocerus gigas
Giant wood wasp, also known as a giant horntail or a greater horntail, female, Urocerus gigas, family Siricidae.
□ Six-year-old Grace Wells spotted this giant wood wasp as it was near drowning in her play pool. Those are Grace’s shoes in the photo. Her grand uncle snapped the photo.
Photographed by: Les Munro. Spotted by: Grace Wells. Nice job, Grace! Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Perth, Scotland, UK. Date: 3 August, 2020.

Crabronidae, the crabronid wasps, including the mud daubers and sand wasps

Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus)
Eastern cicada killer, also known as a ground digger wasp, Sphecius speciosus, subfamily Bembicinae, family Crabronidae.
Eastern cicada killers will dig into the ground, as shown here, so they are often known as ground digger wasps.
Photographed and identified by: Daniel Cardella. Location: Warren, Michigan, USA. Date: 13 August, 2014.
Daniel says, “Wasp dug for 2 days, then never came back. It was over 2" long and had a pile of dirt 6" high & 10" dia. - amazing to watch.”
Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus)
Eastern cicada killer, also known as a ground digger wasp, Sphecius speciosus, subfamily Bembicinae, family Crabronidae.
Eastern cicada killers are also sometimes called cicada hawks or sand hornets, but they are indeed wasps. Cicada killers can get quite large, growing to 2 inches long!
Photographed and identified by: Daniel Cardella. Location: Warren, Michigan, USA. Date: 13 August, 2014.
Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus)
Eastern cicada killer, also known as a ground digger wasp, subfamily Bembicinae, Sphecius speciosus, family Crabronidae.
Eastern cicada killers are wasps that do indeed kill cicadas. A female cicada killer will sting and paralyze the cicada, tote it to her burrow, and lay an egg under its leg. The egg hatches into a larva that begins to eat the cicada, which remains alive, and continues to gnaw on the cicada until it pupates.
Photographed by: Richard Lewenson. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, USA. Date: 6 August, 2017.
Richard says, “It seems to have built a hive in the ground.”
Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus)
Eastern cicada killer, also known as a ground digger wasp, Sphecius speciosus, subfamily Bembicinae, family Crabronidae.
Eastern cicada killers are not aggressive and will usually keep their distance from people, but they sometimes get a little too close and will sting. It is quite a beautiful wasp with the brown and black thorax, and black and yellow body.
Photographed by: Kyle Lengerich. Location: Greenwood, Indiana, USA. Date: 2018.
Kyle says he unfortunately had to kill this one. “It was close to our back door and buzzed my son, so it had to go.”
Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus)
Eastern cicada killer, also known as a ground digger wasp, Sphecius speciosus, subfamily Bembicinae, family Crabronidae.
□To provide an idea of the size of the eastern cicada killers, the photographer took this shot next to a handy ruler.
Photographed by: Lisa Hetchler. Location: Lake Odessa, Michigan, USA. Date: 31 July, 2019.
Lisa says, “These are active around 5-6 p.m. and are burrowing in my friend’s yard around her sidewalk.”
Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus)
Eastern cicada killer, also known as a ground digger wasp, Sphecius speciosus, subfamily Bembicinae, family Crabronidae.
□ The photographer was not exaggerating when she guessed this eastern cicada killer was about 2 inches long. This species can indeed get that large.
Photographed by: H. C. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Dallas, Texas, USA. Date: 25 June, 2020.
H. C. says, “Large. Like two inches. Chases bees and wasps away.”
Eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus)
Eastern cicada killer, also known as a ground digger wasp, Sphecius speciosus, subfamily Bembicinae, family Crabronidae.
□ This photo shows the size of the Eastern cicada killer — quite an impressive insect!
Photographed and identified by: Bernie Tomsa. Location: West Bloomfield, Michigan, USA. Date: 12 July, 2020.
Bernie says, “I actually saw one of these (same species I think) kill a cicada when I lived in Virginia during the last swarm.”
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Crabronid Wasp (Bicyrtes viduatus)
Crabronid wasp, Bicyrtes viduatus, subfamily Bembicinae, family Crabronidae.
□ Features of this crabronid wasp include incomplete yellow bands on its black abdomen; a smear of dark color on the edge of its forewings; and as the photographer describes it, “a smiley face” on its thorax.
Photographed and identified to family by: Robert Carpenter. See Robert’s slow-motion nature video here. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Guadalupe River near Ingram, Texas, USA. Date: 24 July, 2020.
Robert spotted this wasp feeding on spotted water hemlock, which is quite a poisonous plant.
Sand Wasp (Bembix americana)
Sand wasp, female, Bembix americana, subfamily Bembicinae, family Crabronidae.
□ The sand wasp has extended and pointy mouthparts, as well as a series of long spines (tarsal spines) extending off the rear of the forelegs (both of which are visible in the photo at left). She also has a beautifully striped abdomen, yellow legs, and big green eyes that are set off with a thin white stripe (as shown in the photo at right). As might be surmised, these wasps dig in the sand, and the task goes quite quickly with her leg spines that help move the sand.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size photos here and here. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 29 September, 2018.
Thomas says, “The flowers are about 10mm (0.4 inches) in diameter.”
Beetle Wasp (Cerceris sextoides)
Beetle wasp, female, Cerceris sextoides, subfamily Philanthinae, family Crabronidae.
□ Some beetle wasps have nearly straight black stripes showing between their abdominal segments (like this one), while others reveal a black-filled half-circle or triangle on each abdominal segment (as seen here and in the photo of the male in the next row). This is a female. One way to tell a female from a male beetle wasp is to look at her face. A careful look at the right-hand photo shows a two-pointed clypeus (the yellow U-shaped “nose”), which is present in the female but not in the male.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size photos here, here and here. Identified by: Lynn Kimsey, Ph.D., professor of entomology and director of both the Center for Biosystematics and the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California-Davis. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey! Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 29 September, 2018.
Dr. Kimsey says, “Nice animal; probably one of the most common species of Cerceris in California.”
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Add your photo here! Beetle Wasp (Cerceris sextoides)
Beetle wasp, male, Cerceris sextoides, subfamily Philanthinae, family Crabronidae.
□ The photographer noted that this male beetle wasp has a tiny yellow dot behind its eye, a feature he did not see in the female (which is pictured in the row above).
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size photos here, here and here. Identified by: Lynn Kimsey, Ph.D., professor of entomology and director of both the Center for Biosystematics and the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California-Davis. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey! Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 29 September, 2018.
Green-Eyed Wasp (Tachytes distinctus)
Green-eyed wasp, also known as a burrow builder, male, Tachytes distinctus, subfamily Crabroninae, family Crabronidae.
□ The green eyes, silver-banded abdomen and orange wings are all characteristic of the green-eyed wasp. See the photographer’s comment for one more interesting feature. A nearly identical-looking species, Tachytes seminole, also lives in Florida, but it has only three silver bands on its abdomen. The Green-Eyed Wasp is also sometimes called a Burrow Builder because it digs holes in the ground. To see a burrow, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 19 June, 2019.
Sheldon says, “Small bee with very unusual legs.”
Green-Eyed Wasp (Tachytes spp.)
Green-eyed wasp in the genus Tachytes, subfamily Crabroninae, family Crabronidae.
Green-eyed wasps are solitary wasps (so they don’t have a large nest like honey bees do), and they are predators, feeding on other insects, including grasshoppers. They are sometimes called Square-Headed Wasps, although their heads are more oblong than square.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Lena Lemon. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. Date: 27 August, 2019.
Lena says, “I took this after it stung me.”
Crabronid Wasp (Trypoxylon spp.)
Crabronid wasp, tentatively identified in the genus Trypoxylon, subfamily Crabroninae, family Crabronidae.
□ According to a 2006 study, females of some species of crabronid wasps in this genus (Trypoxylon) will paralyze spiders and set them next to their eggs so that when they hatch, the wasp larvae have a tasty treat waiting for them.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Tommy Vick. Identified to tentative genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Davis Mountains, Fort Davis, Texas, USA. Date: 27 May, 2020.
Tommy says, “They are small, shy and fast, so hard to photograph.”

Sphecidae, the thread-waisted wasps, including the digger wasps

Great black wasp (Sphex pensylvanica)
Great black wasp, Sphex pensylvanica, family Sphecidae (the thread-waisted wasps, including the digger wasps).
Photographed by: Paula Lomasney. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Northern Saratoga County, New York, USA. Date: 13 July, 2015.
Paula says they were “burrowing like mad in the sand of the window wells that surround the basement windows (on the outside).”
Great Black Wasp (Sphex pensylvanica)
Great black wasp, Sphex pensylvanica, family Sphecidae.
□ Female great black wasps will sting and paralyze katydids and bring them to their nests to feed their larvae.
Photographed by: Paula Lomasney. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Northern Saratoga County, New York, USA. Date: 13 July, 2015.
Paula described this insect as “at least 1–1.25 inches.”
Gold-Reined Wasp (Sphex habenus)
Gold-reined wasp, also known as a gold-reined digger wasp, Sphex habenus, family Sphecidae.
□ The gold patches on this gorgeous gold-reined wasp really show up in this photo. It is quite a contrast with the reddish-brown abdomen.
Photographed and identified to family by: Brad Miller. Location: southern Alabama, USA. Date: 24 June, 2019.
Brad says, “I’m an avid outdoorsman and I’ve never seen a wasp quite like this one. I’m very intrigued for sure.”
Great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus)
Great golden digger wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus, family Sphecidae.
□ This photo provides a view of the underside of a great golden digger wasp.
Photographed and identified to family by: Casper Key. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Michigan, USA. Date: 11 July, 2020.
Great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus)
Great golden digger wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus, family Sphecidae.
□ Here is the great golden digger wasp with the hole it has dug. Identifying features include the black wings and black end on the abdomen.
Photographed and identified by: Tim Spohn. Location: Mexico (near the eastern shore of Lake Ontario), New York, USA. Date: 14 August, 2017.
Great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus)
Great golden digger wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus, family Sphecidae.
□ The great golden digger wasp has a haze of yellow fuzz around its head and thorax. The rest of the body is split between a rich orange and black.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Robert Carpenter. See Robert’s slow-motion nature video here. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Kerrville, Texas, USA. Date: 28 July, 2017.
Robert says, “I got this beautiful wasp on elderberry.”
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Ashmead's Digger Wasp (Sphex ashmeadi)
Ashmead’s digger wasp, Sphex ashmeadi, subfamily Sphecinae, family Sphecidae.
Ashmead’s digger wasp is a large wasp with an gold to orangish abdomen, including the petiole (its super-thin “waist”, sometimes called a pedicel), which is clearly seen in the right photo of the wasp’s underside. Identifier Dr. Douglas Yanega says it is a predatory wasp that “provisions its larvae with paralyzed katydids, stuffed into small underground chambers that are sealed when the egg is laid.” Katydids! That is one bold wasp!
Photographed and identified to order by: Brian Baker. Identified to species by: entomologist Douglas Yanega of the Entomology Research Museum at the University of California, Riverside. Thank you, Dr. Yanega (and also to entomologist Rick Vetter who put KnowYourInsects.org in touch with Dr. Yanega). Location: Los Angeles, California, USA. Date: 24 July, 2020.
Brian says, “Very interesting stuff and now I am armed with that knowledge and can read more about them.”
Blue Mud Wasp (Chalybion spp.)
Blue mud wasp in the genus Chalybion, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ The blue mud wasp, also known as a blue mud dauber wasp, is a beautiful metallic blue. This species hunts down spiders, envenomates and paralyzes them, and then leaves the incapacitated wasps for its newly hatched larvae to eat.
Discovered by: Jameel Weamama. Identified by: Wasana Niyomdecha. Great job! Location: Hatyai, Thailand. Date: 26 June, 2020.
Wasana’s son Jameel spotted this wasp dead on the house staircase.
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium
Black and yellow mud dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium,subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ This beautiful close-up of this black and yellow mud dauber wasp shows the characteristic stripe pattern of this species: one at the front of the thorax, a double stripe at the rear of the thorax (also seen in other photos on this page), and a stripe at the front of the abdomen.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size image here Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 28 September, 2018.
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium
Black and yellow mud dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ This is the black and yellow mud dauber wasp in flight. Note the ultra-thin “wasp waist,” a thin structure called a petiole (or pedicel) that connects the thorax with the abdomen. In the black and yellow mud dauber wasp, the petiole is usually black in northern areas, but often yellow in southern locations.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 29 August, 2017.
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber Wasp (Sceliphron caementarium)
Black and yellow mud dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ The black and yellow mud dauber wasp sometimes goes by the name of black-waisted mud dauber. Individuals have some variability in the stripe pattern, as well as the color of the stripe at the front of the abdomen (it may be orange as shown here, or yellow).
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 11 April, 2018.
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium
Black and yellow mud dauber wasp, nest, Sceliphron caementarium, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ This adult black and yellow mud dauber wasp was flying near the nest. A single adult female builds and guards the nest. The adult males do not engage with the females except to mate. Otherwise, the males buzz around flowers, feeding on their nectar.
Photographed and identified as a mud wasp by: Carlo Castoro. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Maryland, USA. Date: 27 August, 2017.
KnowYourInsects.org says, “Great job phootgraphing the nest, larvae, prey and the adult Mud Dauber, Carlo!”
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium
Black and yellow mud dauber wasp, nest, Sceliphron caementarium, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ This large mud nest is made by one adult female black and yellow mud dauber wasp. This species is known as a solitary wasp because it does not live in hives. See the larvae in the next photo.
Photographed and identified as a mud wasp by: Carlo Castoro. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Maryland, USA. Date: 27 August, 2017.
Carlo says, “Took this down from inside a boat.”
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium
Black and yellow mud dauber wasp, larvae, Sceliphron caementarium, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ Within the black and yellow mud dauber wasp’s nest are a series of chambers, each of which contains a larva. The photographer has broken off a piece of the nest to show two, large, dark-brown larvae in adjacent chambers. Find out what the larvae eat in the next photo.
Photographed and identified as a mud wasp by: Carlo Castoro. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Maryland, USA. Date: 27 August, 2017.
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium
Black and yellow mud dauber wasp, larvae, Sceliphron caementarium, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ The photographer found these spiders inside the larval chambers of the black and yellow mud dauber wasp. The adult female will sting, paralyze and lay an egg on a spider, and slide the spider into the chamber. She will then sting, paralyze and stuff additional spiders into the chamber. These paralyzed spiders provide food for the larvae once they hatch. For more information on this cool wasp, click here.
Photographed and identified as a mud wasp by: Carlo Castoro. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Maryland, USA. Date: 27 August, 2017.
Carlo says, “There are numerous comatose spiders, I guess food for the larvae.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “You guessed exactly right!”
Black and Yellow Mud Dauber (Sceliphron caementarium)
Black and yellow mud dauber, Sceliphron caementarium, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ The nests of the black and yellow mud dauber have a cement-like quality (see the photographer’s comment below). Depending on available space, the female may make nests that are separate (as seen here), or may stack them together so it looks more like tunnels in a glob of mud.
Photographed by: Caroline Bird. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: near Chicago, Illinois, USA. Date: 10 March, 2021.
Caroline found them attached to the edge of a window. She says, “They have a cement/crumbly quality (all were empty).”
Black Mud Dauber wasp, Sceliphron spp.
Black mud dauber wasp in the genus Sceliphron, subfamily Sceliphrinae, family Sphecidae.
□ This black mud dauber wasp has bright yellow petiole (its super-thin “waist”, sometimes called a pedicel), as well as yellow section on its legs and a few small yellow spots on its thorax.
Photographed by: Saloni Sharma. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Akhnoor, India. Date: 27 August, 2020.
Cutworm Wasp (Podalonia spp.)
Cutworm wasp in the genus Podalonia, family Sphecidae.
□ This is likely a cutworm wasp in the genus Podalonia. It is called a cutworm wasp because its prey are cutworms (caterpillars of certain types of moths), which the wasp finds by digging into the soil.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size images here, here, and here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 31 October, 2018.
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Vespidae, the vespid wasps, including the yellowjackets, hornets, paper wasps, and others

Bald-Faced Hornet (Dolichovespula spp.)
Bald-faced hornet in the genus Dolichovespula, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ The bald-faced hornet gets its name from its black-and-white coloration body. It is a reference to the word piebald, which is used to describe black-and-white horses.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Kalkaska County, Michigan, USA. Date: 28 May, 2012.
Bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula spp.)
Bald-Faced Hornet in the genus Dolichovespula, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ The hairs on the body of this worker bald-faced hornet show up marvelously in this photo. The queens have no hairs. This photo also provides a nice view of the formidable-looking jaws and beautiful pattern of markings on the underside of its abdomen.
Photographed and identified to order by: Andrew Kapusta, Jr. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Frankenmuth, Michigan, USA. Date: 3 September, 2019.
Bald-Faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)
Bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ This bald-faced hornet is technically a yellowjacket wasp, and not a hornet (hornets are in the genus Vespa). Like other yellowjackets, it builds large papery nests that typically have the shape of a hot-air balloon’s balloon.
Photographed and identified to order by: Kathie Mawhinney. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, USA. Date: 3 October, 2019.
Bald-Faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)
Bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ This photo shows the pattern of markings on the abdomen of bald-faced hornet, along with the white face and the white legs that look almost as if they have been outlined with a pen.
Photographed by: Laura Saaf. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA. Date: 19 June, 2020.
Bald-Faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)
Bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ Several bald-faced hornets are busy on this paper nest. Hundreds of bald-faced hornets can be born and live in a single nest during a season, but most die before winter, except for the next season’s queens, which are already fertilized and ready to start a new nest in the following spring.
Photographed by: Trenton Prentice. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Unknown. Date: 23 August, 2020.
Hornet nest (Vespidae)
Hornet nest, family Vespidae.
Hornets make nests like this one by chewing on wood, which mixes with their saliva to turn into a wet pulp. They then lay the pulp (like little concrete masons!), which dries into the paper of their nests.
Photographed by: Shelli St. Clair. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Sterling, Alaska, USA. Date: 14 July, 2016.
Shelli says, “I've never seen this kind of nest!”
European Hornet (Vespa crabro)
European hornet, Vespa crabro, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ This European hornet’s head is brown and yellow with dark outlines showing the boundaries between the hardened “plates” of the head. The boundaries are called sutures and the plates are called sclerites.
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, USA. Date: 22 September, 2012.
European Hornet (Vespa crabro)
European hornet, Vespa crabro, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ This is a different view of the European hornet in the previous photo — this large hornet is quite attractive from above and below! For more information on this hornet, which can become aggressive, click here.
Photographed by: Carlo Castoro. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pasadena, Maryland, USA. Date: 9 September, 2017.
European Hornet (Vespa crabro)
European hornet, Vespa crabro, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ Native to Europe as well as Asia, the European hornet came into the United States more than 150 years ago and is now well-established in the eastern half of the United States (where this photo was taken).
Photographed by: Carlo Castoro. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pasadena, Maryland, USA. Date: 9 September, 2017.
Carlo says, “He was walking down the dock, then he settled onto a piece of line where I was able to get my close-up some of him.”
European Hornet (Vespa crabro)
European hornet, Vespa crabro, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ Such distinctive markings on the abdomen of this European hornet!
Photographed by: Dawn Knott. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: the community of California, in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, USA. Date: 16 September, 2017.
Dawn says, “It only shows up at the sliding glass door at night, by itself. It is large, at least 1 1/4 inch.”
European Hornet (Vespa crabro)
European hornet, Vespa crabro, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ This photo shows the brown “shoulders” common to European hornets.
Photographed and identified by: Carlo Castoro. Location: Pasadena, Maryland, USA. Date: 12 September, 2017.
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Lesser Banded Hornet (Vespa affinis)
Lesser banded hornet, Vespa affinis, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ This lesser banded hornet has a vibrant yellow band across its abdomen, but some individuals have a less obvious band and some lack the band altogether. It has quite a potent venom in its sting and can be aggressive (see the photographer’s comment below).
□ It makes a paper nest that has a rather raindrop shape: round at the bottom and tapering at the top.
Photographed by: Chandev Abhayaratne. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka. Date: 17 September, 2020.
Chandev says, “It was hovering around my legs while I was sleeping and I brushed it off when I awoke. Narrow shave, I suppose.”
European wasp (Vespula germanica)
Common wasp in the genus Vespula, likely Vespula germanica, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ Two members of common wasps in this genus look very similar: Vespula vulgaris and Vespula germanica. To see the variation in wasp patterning, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Location: Ivybridge, Devon, England, UK. Date: 16 November, 2017.
Bryan says, “A lone being in our garden, just being curious!”
European wasp (Vespula vulgaris)
Common wasp in the genus Vespula, likely Vespula vulgaris, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ These two views detail this gorgeous black and yellow common wasps. Compared to the similar wasp Vespula germanica, most of the black spots on the abdomen of Vespula germanica are usually separate from the bands, whereas most of the spots in Vespula vulgaris merge with the bands.
□ A key distinguishing feature is the presence of at least two (usually three) separate black dots on the wasp’s “face” (or clypeus): Vespula germanica has them; Vespula vulgaris usually doesn’t.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Location: Ivybridge, Devon, England, UK. Date: 27 July, 2019.
Southern yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa)
Southern yellowjacket, Vespula squamosa, queen, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ Notice the different coloration and patterning in this southern yellowjacket queen, as compared to the worker photo elsewhere on this page. In addition, the queen is much larger than the workers or the males. To learn more about this hornet (and several others), click here.
Photographed and identified to family by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to species by: Audrey Maran. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 3 April, 2018.
Southern yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa)
Southern yellowjacket, Vespula squamosa, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ The southern yellowjacket has a thick, yellow, broken circle running around the outside of the thorax with two parallel yellow lines and two large yellow spots inside. To learn more about this hornet (and several others), click here.
Photographed and identified to family by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 12 December, 2017.
Sheldon says it is tiny, about a half-inch (1.3 cm) long.
Western Yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica)
Western yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ One of the features of this western yellowjacket is the yellow ring that completely encircles each eye, as if the yellowjacket is wearing a pair of yellow goggles.
Photographed and identified to family by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 18 December, 2016.
Western Yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica)
Western yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ The western yellowjacket nests on the ground and it defends that nest quite aggressively. Like other members of this family, each is capable of stinging multiple times, so it is best not to disturb this species.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 18 December, 2016.
Western yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica)
Western yellowjacket, Vespula pensylvanica, subfamily Vespinae, family Vespidae.
□ The western yellowjacket’s eyes are notched, as seen here, and it also sports a somewhat crown-shaped yellow marking between its eyes.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 18 December, 2016.
Thomas says, “It was a very windy day; amazing that (this photo) turned out.”
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European Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula)
European paper wasp, Polistes dominula, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ The European paper wasp arrived in the United States at least as early as 1978, and is now a very common wasp in much of the country. This one was photographed in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Gaylord, Michigan, USA. Date: 21 September, 2017.
Leslie says, “The two commas and other yellow lines look almost as if they were painted on.”
European paper wasp (Polistes dominula)
European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ Once the European paper wasp arrives in a new area, it can spread very quickly, even in areas that are cooler than its native range, which includes southern Europe and northern Africa. Photographed and identified by: Gene Fleszar. Location: Northville, Michigan, USA. Date: September 2013.
European paper wasp (Polistes dominula)
European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ The European paper wasp has orange antennae, yellow legs touched with black near the body, and brown wings. A close look at the abdomen shows solid and more transparent color within the yellow banding.
Photographed and identified to family by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 5 June, 2019.
Thomas says, “This character is on a sunflower leaf.”
European paper wasp (Polistes dominula)
European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ The photographer snapped this shot of a European paper wasp on its nest.
Photographed and identified to species by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here and another of the nest here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 10 May, 2020.
Horse's Paper Wasp (Polistes major)
Horse’s paper wasp, male, Polistes major, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ The horse’s paper wasp is yellow with reddish-brown markings. A large wasp of up to an inch long (2.5 cm), it is found in Central America, northern South America, the Caribbean and Mexico, and has expanded its range into the United States — for instance, it arrived in Florida in 1975, and in southeastern Georgia in 2014.
Photographed and identified to family by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 1 January, 2019.
Paper Wasp (Polistes aurifer or Polistes apachus)
Paper wasp in the genus Polistes, likely either the golden paper wasp Polistes aurifer or Texas paper wasp (also known as Apache paper wasp), Polistes apachus, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ The Texas paper wasp and reddish form of the golden paper wasp are very similar (the golden paper wasp also has a blackish form), and are quite difficult to tell apart. This one is busy on its nest.
Submitted and identified to family by: Tara Farzin. Photographed by: Laura Tai. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Riverside, California, USA. Date: 7 April, 2019.
Apache Paper Wasp (Polistes apachus)
Apache paper wasp, also known as Apache paper wasp, Polistes apachus, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ This pair of photos of the Texas paper wasp shows an active nest, as well as a closeup of one of these quite beautiful insects.
Photographed and identified to genus by: Tom Harlan. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Colony, Texas, USA. Date: 17 August, 2020.
Comanche Paper Wasp (Polistes comanchus)
Comanche paper wasp, Polistes comanchus, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ An attractive insect, the Comanche paper wasp has bicolored antennae, a yellow near-ring on its thorax, an orange-brown petiole (the “wasp waist”), and a striped, bright yellow abdomen. See the photographer’s comment below about its behavior.
Photographed and identified by: Tommy Vick. Location: Davis Mountains, Fort Davis, Texas, USA. Date: 27 May, 2020.
Tommy says, “They are gentle and will light on your finger, then fly on. They can sting but it doesn’t hurt that bad.” Tommy has experience with the sting from this wasp.
Paper wasp (Polistes carolina)
Red paper wasp, Polistes carolina, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ Two species of red paper wasp are almost identical: Polistes carolina and Polistes perplexus. Polistes perplexus has lots of fine pubescence on its lower gena, or in layman’s terms short fuzz on its “cheeks.” In comparison, Polistes carolina is almost bald on its lower gena. This photo does not show the pubescence, so it appears to be Polistes carolina.
Photographed and identified by: Manzeal Khanal. Location: Crownridge Canyon Natural Area, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Date: 25 August, 2019.
Manzeal says, “Wasps and bees are one of my favorite insects due to their pollination and predator services, so I will always love to shoot them, though sometimes its risky to get stung.”
Paper wasp (Polistes perplexus)
Red paper wasp, Polistes perplexus, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ This photo of a red paper wasp shows a line of yellow pubescence, or fuzz, on its lower gena (the “cheeks”, which is a feature of the species Polistes perplexus. The almost-identical species Polistes carolina lacks the pubescence.
Robert Carpenter. See Robert’s slow-motion nature video here. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Guadalupe River near Ingram, Texas, USA. Date: 24 July, 2020.
Robert spotted this wasp feeding on spotted a water hemlock plant.
Paper Wasp (Polistes flavus)
Paper wasp, Polistes flavus, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ This gorgeous paper wasp is decorated with intricate black lines.
Photographed and identified by: Amitava Sil. Location: Kolkata, India. Date: 18 June, 2018.
Paper wasp (Polistes spp.)
Paper wasp in the genus Polistes, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
Photographed by: Denise Rulason. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Mayville, Michigan, USA. Date: 29 April, 2018.
Paper wasp (Polistes spp.)
Paper wasp in the genus Polistes, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ A number of yellow-striped, red species of paper wasps are present in Florida, where this photo was taken. Some options in Florida, where this photo was taken, include: Polistes bellicosus, Polistes exclamans, and Polistes dorsalis.
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Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 25 October, 2019.
Paper wasp (Polistes spp.)
Paper wasp in the genus Polistes, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 12 December, 2017.
Paper wasp (Polistes spp.)
Paper wasp in the genus Polistes, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 26 April, 2018.
Paper Wasp (Polistes spp.)
Paper wasp in the genus Polistes, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ Several species in this genus of paper wasps look quite similar. It typically takes an expert to view all angles of the actual specimen (rather than photos) to tell one species from another. Some options in Florida, where these photos were taken, are: Polistes bellicosus, Polistes exclamans, and Polistes dorsalis.
Photographed and identified to family by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 14 December, 2017.
Paper wasp (Polistes spp.)
Paper wasp in the genus Polistes, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ Some regions of the world have few insect-identification guides. That is true for this paper wasp, which was photographed in the North Western Himalayas. The more photographs from this region, the better!
Photographed by: Umer Bin Farook. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: North Western Himalayas. Date: 7 June, 2020.
Paper wasp (Mischocyttarus mexicanus)
Paper wasp, Mischocyttarus mexicanus, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ See the photographer’s comments below about this paper wasp.
Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 12 January, 2019.
Sheldon says, “This small bee with very distinctive marking was in a shadowy flight underneath vegetation.”
Banded Paper Wasp (Ropalidia fasciata)
Banded paper wasp, Ropalidia fasciata, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ The banded paper wasps in this photo are busy on their unusual long and vertical nests.
Photographed by: Abhay Khandagle. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Maharashtra State of India. Date: 31 May, 2020.
Paper Wasp (Ropalidia spp.)
Paper wasp in the genus Ropalidia, subfamily Polistinae, family Vespidae.
□ This paper wasps has a reddish-brown body with wide, cream band on the abdomen.
□ Wasps in this genus (Ropalidia) form new nests in one of two ways: Either a swarm of them, including a few potential queens (females that have already mated and are ready to have young), will fly off together to make a new nest; or a single mated female will strike out on her own to start a nest.
Photographed by: Amit S. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pune, Maharashtra, India. Date: 22 November, 2020.
Potter wasp (Ancistrocerus spp.)
Potter wasp in the genus Ancistrocerus, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
Potter wasps use mud to make their nests, which look rather like pots. Note the “face” pattern of markings on the thorax — two horizontal slashes of yellow for eyes, and a longer horizontal slash for the mouth, as well as the black, sideways “H” on the abdomen.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas's full-size photos here and here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 December, 2016.
Thomas says, “If I remember right, these wasps did a lot of flying around but never landed for very long.”
Mason wasp (Ancistrocerus spp.)
Potter wasp in the genus Ancistrocerus, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
□ This photo shows the details of this potter wasp’s head. See the photographer’s comment below.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size photo here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 24 September, 2018.
Thomas says, “The thorax looks like it has a ‘collar’ and you can see the ‘neck’ going into it.”
Potter wasp (Ancistrocerus spp.)
Potter wasp, in the genus Ancistrocerus, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
□ This beautiful set of photos shows this potter wasp from several angles. The center photo is quite interesting in that it shows the separate abdominal segments quite clearly: They look layered, almost like shingles on a roof. The center photo also gives a view of the caterpillar this potter wasp is having for lunch.
□ The genus name of Ancistrocerus is a combination of two Greek words: ancistro, which means hooked; and keras, which means horn. This refers to the sharply curved tip on the end of each of the male’s antennae.
Photographed and identified as a potter wasp by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas's full-size photos here, here, and here. Identified to genus through comparison to Bugguide.net by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 July, 2019.
Mason wasp (Ancistrocerus campestris)
Potter wasp, also known as a mason wasp, in the genus Ancistrocerus, possibly Ancistrocerus campestris, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
□ The “smiley face” and two of the yellow abdominal stripes show up well on this potter wasp.
Photographed by: Kim Scofield. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Date: 26 January, 2020.
Kim had six or seven as uninvited house guests over a two-week period.
Mason wasp (Ancistrocerus tuberculocephalus)
Mason wasp, male, Ancistrocerus tuberculocephalus, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
□ Male mason wasps typically have the last segment of the antennae curved backward, as shown in this photo. The identification of this species was a team effort (see below).
□ One of the unusual features of wasps, bees and ants is that the middle segment of the body — called the mesosoma — is not just made up of the three thoracic segments (as in other insects). Instead, the first abdominal segment is also fused to the mesosoma. That first abdominal segment is called the propodeum. The propodeum is visible in this photo — it begins at the short yellow-colored bar at the back of the mesosoma.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas's full-size photos here and here. Identified to subfamily by: entomologist Lynn Kimsey, University of California-Davis. Identified to species by: entomologist James M. Carpenter, chair of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey and Dr. Carpenter! Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 28 September, 2016.
Potter wasp (Rhynchium oculatum)
Potter wasp, Rhynchium oculatum, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
□ This species of potter wasp makes its nest in bamboo cane. The female lays an egg in the hollow opening, captures a caterpillar and puts it next to the egg, and then seals up that partition of the cane; and then repeats the process perhaps a half dozen times until the cane’s length is used up (see the photographer’s comment below). When each egg hatches into wasp larva, it has a ready food source in the caterpillar.
□ A distinguishing feature of this potter wasp is the blotch of yellow on the abdomen, although the amount of yellow can vary from one individual to the next. Notice how differently the blotch looks from the different angles shown here.
Photographed and identified as a potter wasp by: Rina Grace. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. Date: 29 September, 2019.
Rina says, “Been watching it for a week going in and out of the bamboo cane, and today now it is sealing up the opening of the cane with mud.&rquo;
Potter wasp (Rhynchium spp.)
Potter wasp in the genus Rhynchium, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
Photographed and identified as a paper wasp by: Danish Masroor. Tentatively identified to genus by: Girish Kumar of the Zoological Survey of India. Thank you, Dr. Kumar! Location: Bihar, India. Date: 26 November, 2018.
Four-Toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens)
Four-toothed mason wasp, Monobia quadridenss, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
□ The four-toothed mason wasp has one wide, light-yellow or ivory band on an otherwise black abdomen. They are solitary wasps and are sometimes seen exiting or entering small holes in a roof eave — that’s where they have their nests. Those holes are often the abandoned nests of carpenter bees.
Photographed by: Erica M. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tallahassee, Florida, USA. Date: 26 May, 2018.
Four-Toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens)
Four-toothed mason wasp, Monobia quadridenss, subfamily Eumeninae, family Vespidae.
□ The broad, white band near the front of the abdomen is characteristic of this four-toothed mason wasp. Note also the thin brown line within that white band — it is also a feature of this handsome wasp.
Photographed by: Photographed and identified by: Christopher Barger. Location: East Tennessee, USA. Date: 12 June, 2020.
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Chrysididae, the cuckoo wasps

Cuckoo Wasp
Cuckoo wasp, likely Chrysis angolensis, family Chrysididae (the cuckoo wasps).
□ They’re called cuckoo wasps because they do the same thing cuckoo birds do — they lay their eggs in someone else’s nest and let those parents care for them. If you look very closely, you can see that this cuckoo wasp has a handsome navy-blue tip on the end of its abdomen.
Photographed and identified as a cuckoo wasp by: Carlo Castoro. Identified by: entomologist Lynn Kimsey, University of California-Davis. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey! Location: Maryland, USA. Date: 29 August, 2017.
Cuckoo Wasp
Cuckoo wasp, family Chrysididae (the cuckoo wasps).
□ The body of a cuckoo wasp is covered with tiny pits, as shown in these photos. To protect themselves from attack by other insects, Cuckoo Wasps have quite a thick cuticle (outer covering) that acts almost as armour. In addition, many members of this family will curl into a ball so all that is exposed is that thick cuticle.
Photographed and identified by: Chinmay Chaitanya Maliye. Location: Banglore, India. Date: 10 August, 2019.
Cuckoo Wasp
Cuckoo wasp in the genus Chrysis, family Chrysididae (the cuckoo wasps).
□ This cuckoo wasp looks like a jewel with its stunning blue/purple and green coloration. One of the characteristics of cuckoo wasps is that they will curl up, as seen here, when they feel threatened. Thank you to Jameel for spotting this beauty (see the photographer’s comment below)!
Discovered by: Jameel Weamama. Photographed by: Wasana Niyomdecha. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Thailand. Date: 11 June, 2020.
Wasana says, “This one was found dead. My son was so excited as the insect has beautiful colour combination.”
Cuckoo Wasp (Stilbum cyanurum)
Large cuckoo wasp, Stilbum cyanurum, family Chrysididae (the cuckoo wasps).
□ Identifier Audrey Maran determined this to be a large cuckoo wasp based on “the coloration, antennal segments, pronotum shape, and ability to curl into a ball.” Nice job, Audrey!
Photographed by: K J Westman. Identified to family by: Audrey Maran. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Nitulemada, Digana, Rajawella, Kandy, Sri Lanka. Date: 17 February, 2018.
Cuckoo Wasp
Cuckoo wasp, family Chrysididae (the cuckoo wasps).
□ This cuckoo wasp may be only a half-inch long (less than 15 mm), but the green and blue metallic color make it one to remember. These wasps are sometimes called emerald wasps because of their brilliant color.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, Michigan, USA. Date: 5 July, 2017.
Cuckoo Wasp
Cuckoo wasp, family Chrysididae (the cuckoo wasps).
□ As shown so well here, cuckoo wasps are not only beautiful in color, but also in the sculptured pattern on the body, especially on the thorax. The photographer said it was about an inch (2.5 cm) in length, which is huge for a cuckoo wasp (most are less than half that length). KnowYourInsects.org has not been able to determine the species.
Photographed and identified as a wasp by: Melissa Cervantes. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Central Luzon, Philippines. Date: 6 October, 2020.
Melissa says, “It's blue then kinda turns green under the sun."

Cimbicidae, the cimbicid sawflies

Elm sawfly (Cimbex americana)
Elm sawfly, female, (Cimbex americana), subfamily Cimbicinae, family Cimbicidae.
□ In the elm sawfly, the male looks different: He has a reddish-brown abdomen typically without any yellow banding.
Photographed by: Neil Boyle. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Date: July, 2017.
Neil reports that it was 3 cm long (more than an inch!).
Elm sawfly, Cimbex americana
Elm sawfly, female, Cimbex americana, subfamily Cimbicinae, family Cimbicidae.
□ Take a look at her impressive jaws on this elm sawfly!
Photographed by: Neil Boyle. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Date: July, 2017.
Neil reports that it was 3 cm long (more than an inch!).
Elm sawfly (Cimbex americana)
Elm sawfly, female, Cimbex americana, subfamily Cimbicinae, family Cimbicidae.
□ Although female elm sawflies have yellow banding as many bees, wasps and hornets do, they do not have a stinger. The amount of banding is variable between individuals, as shown in this and the previous photo.
Photographed by: Vicki Kasupski. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Gimli, Manitoba, Canada. Date: 17 July, 2018.
Elm sawfly (Cimbex americana)
Elm sawfly, Cimbex americana, subfamily Cimbicinae, family Cimbicidae.
□ This elm sawfly has such rich color on the wings and lots of yellow on its abdomen. The larva of this insect is quite large — more than 2 inches (5 cm) long. To see the larva, click here.
Photographed by: Craig Hall. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Shorty Howell Park, Duluth, Georgia. Date: April, 2020.
Craig found this sawfly dying on a cold April day.
Elm sawfly (Cimbex americana)
Elm sawfly, female, Cimbex americana, subfamily Cimbicinae, family Cimbicidae.
□ The photographer and her kids spotted this elm sawfly while taking a swim in a pond. She says, “ My kids immediately thought ‘murder hornet!’ ” but she took a close look and although she had never seen this insect in that area before, she suspected it was something else, possibly a sawfly. She was right!
Photographed and identified by: Amanda Rossiter. Excellent ID, Amanda! Location: New Brunswick, Canada. Date: 19 June, 2020.
Birch sawfly (Cimbex femoratus)
Sawfly, likely a birch sawfly Cimbex femoratus, subfamily Cimbicinae, family Cimbicidae.
□ The photographer estimated the size of this birch sawfly at 2 inches (5 cm) long! Besides its large size, a distinguishing characteristic is the yellow band at its waist, is visible through the wings in the photo.
Photographed by: Linda Adams. Submitted by: Jane Steinegger. Identified to family by: Dr. Gavin Broad of The Natural History Museum in London. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Manchester, England, UK. Date: 9 June, 2020.
Linda photographed this visitor in her garden.
Sawfly larva (family Cimbicidae)
Sawfly, larva, family Cimbicidae.
□ A predatory stink bug is attacking a large sawfly larva. One way to tell a sawfly larva from a butterfly or moth caterpillar is to look at the prolegs, which are the short, nubby legs behind the six larger legs at the front of the larva. Caterpillars have prolegs too, but they are more numerous in sawfly larvae.
Photographed by: Rabiya Ather. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: southern Ontario, Canada. Date: 18 July, 2020.
Rabiya found these two “fighting in my front lawn,” and adds “My kids are really interested in animal and insect life.”
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Tenthredinidae, the tenthredinid sawflies

Sawfly (Tenthredo mesomela)
Sawfly, male, Tenthredo mesomela, subfamily Tenthredininae, family Tenthredinidae.
□ The sawflies in the Tenthredinidae family are similar to the sawflies in the Cimbicidae family in that they do not have a thin, rod-like “waist” (called a petiole). Instead the thorax and abdomen are broadly joined in these two families of sawflies. The species shown here is black on its back, and yellowish-green on its underside, which is just barely visible on the edge of the abdomen in this photo. One of the other features of this species is the black stigma (the long, thin, cell on the outside edge of each forewing). A similar-looking genus of sawfly, Rhogogaster, has a green stigma instead.
Photographed by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ivybridge, Devon, England, UK. Date: 1 August, 2018.
Sawfly (Macremphytus testaceus)
Dogwood sawfly, Macremphytus testaceus, subfamily Tenthredininae, family Tenthredinidae.
□ This dogwood sawfly has a reddish-brown head and abdomen, white tips on its antennae, a white spot at each “shoulder,” and bands on its legs.
□ Notice the squarish head that looks almost as if it has fat cheeks. The head shape is a feature of this family of tenthredinid sawflies.
Photographed by: Heather Miller Salem. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Waverly Twp, Pennsylvania, USA. Date: 22 July, 2020.
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Argidae, the argid sawflies
Andrenidae, the mining bees

Hibiscus sawfly (Atomacera decepta)
Hibiscus sawfly, Atomacera decepta, subfamily Atomacerinae, family Argidae.
□ At about 0.15-0.3 inches long (4-8 mm), hibiscus sawflies are small insects. They feed on Hibiscus leaves (as well as a few related plant species), and skeletonize the leaves. In other words, they eat the flesh of the leaves, but ignore the veins, so just the “skeletons” of the leaves remain. In fact, the photographer reported that the sawfly larvae turned all of her hibiscus leaves “to lace.”
Photographed and identified to species by: Lauren Riggs (with a little nudge from KnowYourInsects.org). Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Date: 26 May, 2019.
Lauren says, “These little guys are all over my garden.”
Add your photo here! Mining bee
Mining bee in the genus Andrena, subfamily Andreninae, family Andrenidae.
□ This mining bee is on back of a common eastern bumble bee queen (Bombus impatiens). Distinguishing features of mining bee females include the patch of velvet-like hairs at the front of the head, between the eyes and antennae; and the long hairs located on the hind-leg trochanter, which is where the leg attaches to the body.
Photographed by: Jackie Lucier. Identified by: entomologist Lynn Kimsey, University of California-Davis. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey! Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 8 April, 2005.
Jackie says, “Very territorial, these males harass all the bees visiting low-growing flowers in the spring.” And the males usually emerge from hibernation three days before the females and scent-mark all the flowers, which attracts the females.

Megachilidae, the leafcutter, mason, resin bees and allies

Sculptured Resin Bee (Megachile sculpturalis)
Sculptured resin bee, Megachile sculpturalis, subfamily Megachilinae, family Megachilidae.
Sculptured resin bees reach about an inch (2.4 cm) long. Females also have very large mandibles, according to identifier Jackie Lucier. He adds that they nest in aggregations in pre-existing cavities, preferring old carpenter bee holes.
Photographed by: John Wieller. Identified by: Jackie Lucier. Thank you, Jackie, for the ID and all the information! Location: Easton, Pennsylvania. Date: 8 April, 2005.
John says, “After catching 18 of these bees in my basement over a two-week period, I have not seen any more of them in the last 13 days. I am still trying to figure out how they got into my basement. Out of the 18 I caught, two of them must have been females as they were larger than the other 16.”
Leafcutter Bee (Megachile spp.)
Leafcutter bee in the genus Megachile, subfamily Megachilinae, family Megachilidae.
□ This leafcutter bee is coated with pollen, thanks to the small hairs covering its body.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size images here, here and here. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 5 May, 2019.
Leafcutter Bee (Megachile spp.)
Leafcutter bee in the genus Megachile, subfamily Megachilinae, family Megachilidae.
Leafcutter bees in this family (Megachilidae) have stout bodies, whereas other bees are more svelte. Interestingly, female Megachilid bees have pollen sacs on the underside of the abdomen, rather than on their legs as is the case with other bees.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size images here and here. Identified to genus by: entomologist Lynn Kimsey, University of California-Davis. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey! Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 28 September, 2018.
European Wool Carder (Anthidium manicatum)
European wool carder, Anthidium manicatum, subfamily Megachilinae, family Megachilidae.
□ The European wool carder doesn’t card wool, but it does scrape the tiny hairs from plant leaves and then lines its nests with them. It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, but has spread to many other regions, including the United States, where this photo was taken.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size images here and here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 July, 2019.
Thomas says, “This one did a lot of hovering around the bush compared to other bees that I have seen.”
Wool Carder (Anthidium spp.)
Wool carder, possibly in the genus Anthidium, subfamily Megachilinae, family Megachilidae.
Wool carder bees are mainly solitary species (see the photographer’s comment below). These bees collect pollen not on their legs as most other bees do, but on their abdomens.
Photographed and identified to order by: Yanni Petropoulos. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: southern Greece. Data: 2 June, 2020.
Of the crab spider (Thomisus spp.), Yanni says, “It was perfectly camouflaged on a pink/purple flower and I guess the bee had quite a surprise!”
European Wool Carder (Anthidium manicatum)
European wool carder, Anthidium manicatum, subfamily Megachilinae, family Megachilidae.
□ The amount of yellow on the abdomen of the European wool carder varies between individuals. This one has much more yellow than the previous photos, and it also has yellow markings on its thorax, which may be lacking in others. The wing venation, however, is the same.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size images here, here and here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 5 June, 2019.

Halictidae, the sweat bees

Texas Striped Sweat Bee (Agapostemon texanus)
Texas striped sweat bee, also known as ultra green sweat bee, male and female, Agapostemon texanus, subfamily Halictinae, family Halicidae.
□ The male Texas striped sweat bee (pictured in the left and center photos) has a bright yellow abdomen with black stripes. The female (photo at right) is all metallic green with fainter black stripes on her abdomen. As the common name implies, sweat bees are attracted to human perspiration, so they can get on people’s nerves!
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size images here, here, and here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 2 November, 2018.
Thomas says, “These green bees sure were a surprise when I started seeing them!”
Texas Striped Sweat Bee (Agapostemon texanus)
Texas striped sweat bee, also known as ultra green sweat bee, female, Agapostemon texanus, subfamily Halictinae, family Halicidae.
□ This pretty little Texas striped sweat bee was found on a garden flower.
Photographed and identified to genus by: Wayne Center. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Riverside, California, USA. Date: 26 February, 2020.
Wayne says, “It seems the more California native plants I add to the yard, the wider variety of insects come visit.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “So true! Native plants are great for insect diversity!”
Striped Sweat Bee (Agapostemon spp.)
Striped sweat bee in the genus Agapostemon, subfamily Halictinae, family Halicidae.
□ The green metallic color of this insect’s back and the black-and-cream striped abdomen were enough to identify it as a striped sweat bee in this genus. Several similar-looking species of striped sweat bee live in the Pacific Northwest, where this photo was taken. This pair was photographed on a purple coneflower.
Photographed by: Hailey Holda. Submitted and identified to family by: Cynthia Holda. Great team work, Hailey and Cynthia! Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Spokane, Washington, USA. Date: 6 October, 2019.
Bi-colored Striped Sweat Bee (Agapostemon virescens)
Bi-colored striped sweat bees, male and female, Agapostemon virescens, subfamily Halictinae, family Halicidae.
□ Both male and female bi-colored striped sweat bees have a metallic green head and thorax. The females have a black and grayish striped abdomen, while males have abdomens with bright yellow and black stripes.
Photographed by: Michelle Von Sutphen. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Albany, New York, USA. Date: 10 June, 2011.
Add your photo here!
Add your photo here! Sweat Bee (Halictus farinosus)
Sweat bee in the genus Halictus, possibly Halictus farinosus, subfamily Halictinae, family Halicidae.
□ A distinguishing feature of this small sweat bee and all sweat bees in the family Halictidae is a strongly curved basal vein in each forewing. A good image of the curved basal vein — and more information about this family of bees — is available by clicking here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size images here, here, and here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 13 May, 2019.
Thomas says it is a small, about ant-sized bee.

Apidae, the honey bee, bumble bee and many other bees

Blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulate)
Blue-banded bee, Amegilla cingulate, family Apidae.
□ This lovely blue-banded bee has blue stripes on a black and shiny abdomen. The striped abdomen is set off further by the golden hue of the thorax.
Photographed by: Ambika Bhatt, a student at Garhwal University in Uttarakhand State in northern India (guide: Dr. P.Tiwari). Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fatehpur district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Date: 15 May, 2018.
Blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulate)
Blue-banded bee, Amegilla cingulate, family Apidae.
□ Female blue-banded bees have four blue bands on the abdomen (like this one). Males have five bands.
Photographed by: Ambika Bhatt, a student at Garhwal University in Uttarakhand State in northern India (guide: Dr. P.Tiwari). Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fatehpur district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Date: 15 May, 2018.
Green lynx spider and honey bee
Honey bee, Apis spp., family Apidae (the honey bee and many other bees).
□ This honey bee is shown as dinner for a green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans).
Photographed by: Theresa Goff. Bumble bee identified by: Theresa Goff. Spider identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Clark Gardens Botanical Park, Weatherford (Parker County), Texas, USA. Date: 4 September, 2016.
Theresa reports that this spider was dining on a bumble bee one day, and this honey bee the next. She says, “The bumble bee carcass was on the ground. I checked back a few hours later and it had another bee. The first bee carcass was on the ground next to the bumble bee and the ants were enjoying both.”
Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Western honey bee, also known as the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, family Apidae.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 7 July, 2013.
Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Western honey bee, also known as the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, family Apidae.
□ This photograph has amazing detail of the western honey bee, which is shown on white lavender.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Location: Ivybridge, Devon, England, UK. Date: 17 July, 2019.
Bryan says, “We have a lot of European honey bees (Apis mellifera) on a white lavender in our garden, but they don’t seem to be ‘collecting’ just feeding.”
Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Western honey bee, also known as the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, family Apidae.
□ This western honey bee is coming in to gather up nectar and pollen, which it will transport back to the hive. The nectar will eventually become honey, which provides the bees with energy. The pollen is the primary source of protein for the hive and is important for development of the young (the brood).
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 12 December, 2017.
Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Western honey bee, also known as the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, family Apidae.
□ Honey Bees drink the nectar, and transport the pollen via a structure called a pollen basket (or corbicula), which is evident in the large orange-yellow clump on this bee’s hind leg.
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 12 December, 2017.
Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Western Honey Bee, also known as the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, family Apidae.
Honey bees make honey from the nectar of different flowers. For instance, honey made from the nectar of clover flowers honey is called clover honey, and nectar from tupelo gum trees becomes tupelo honey (side note: Van Morrison did a great song by that name). Interestingly, nectar from Spotted Knapweed is sold as star thistle honey — apparently knapweed honey didn’t have an appealing ring to it!
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 1 May, 2017.
Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Western honey bee, also known as the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, family Apidae.
□ The wing veins of this honey bee show up beautifully in this photo.
Photographed and identified by: Jean-Louis Metzger. Location: Headington, Oxford, England, UK. Date: 12 July, 2012.
East African Lowland Honey Bee (Apis mellifera scutellata)
East African lowland honey bee, Apis mellifera scutellata, family Apidae.
□ The honey bee species comprises numerous subspecies, which are populations of a species that are set apart from other by a slightly different appearance, or by an isolated geographic locality, or some other feature. This is the subspecies known by the common name of East African lowland honey bee. Subspecies are indicated by a three-part scientific name, rather than the typical two-part name. In this case the species is known as Apis mellifera, and this particular subspecies is known as Apis mellifera scutellata.
Photographed and identified to species by: Natalie Rowles. Identified to subspecies by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pinetown, South Africa (near Durban, KwaZulu-Natal). Date: 11 April, 2020.
Natalie says she photographed this Honey Bee on a rocket herb.
European Dark Bee (Apis mellifera mellifera)
European dark bee, a subspecies of the western honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera, family Apidae.
□ This photo is a three-for-one: a European dark bee in the clutches of a Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia), with several small flies (perhaps freeloader flies in the family Milichiidae) attending the feast. See the photographer’s comment below.
Photographed by: Iggy Tavares. Bee and spider identified by: Iggy Tavares. Fly identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Lloyd Park, Croydon, UK. Date: 9 July, 2018.
After seeing this collection of invertebrates, Iggy describes his next sight: “I got even luckier when 10 minutes later, a wasp came in and stole the bee from the spider before my very eyes. A once in a lifetime vision.”
Long-Horned Bee, (Melissodes spp.)
Long-horned bee in the genus Melissodes, subfamily Apinae, family Apidae.
□ The long antennae (the “horns”) are characteristic of this group of bees: the long-horned bees. The male of the genus Melissodes, as shown here, has a longer body and longer antennae than the female.
Photographed by: Linda Crowley. Identified by: Dr. Rufus Isaacs, an entomologist at Michigan State University. Location: western Lower Peninsula, near Ludington, Michigan, USA. Date: 16 July, 2017.
Linda says, “I have recently seen a large numbers of these... six or eight would crowd on a black-eyed Susan or shasta daisy.”
Long-Horned Bee, (Melissodes spp.)
Long-horned bee in the genus Melissodes, subfamily Apinae, family Apidae.
□ The pattern of wing veins help to identify this as a long-horned bee.
Photographed and identified to family by: Sandy Domine. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: southeastern Lower Peninsula, Michigan, USA. Date: 31 July, 2019.
Sandy says, “I found these tiny bees, covered in pollen, on my sunflowers this morning. Some were no more than a quarter-inch (6.3mm), some up to a half-inch (12.7mm).”
Notch-Backed Cellophane Cuckoo Bee (Epeolus scutellaris)
Notch-backed cellophane cuckoo bee, male, Epeolus scutellaris, subfamily Nomadinae, family Apidae.
□ The notch-backed cellophane cuckoo bee sometimes goes by the common name of Shield-Backed Epeolus. It is shown here on a black-eyed susan flower. According to Bugguide.net, the female will lay an egg on the egg of a Plasterer Bee (genus Colletes in the family Colletidae). When the young cuckoo bee hatches, it not only kills the plasterer bee egg (or larva if it has already hatched too), but then eats the pollen and nectar stored in the nest.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 21 August, 2009.
Autumnal Cellophane Cuckoo bee (Epeolus autumnalis)
Autumnal cellophane cuckoo bee (female), Epeolus autumnalis, subfamily Nomadinae, family Apidae.
□ Photographed on New England aster, the autumnal cellophane cuckoo bee is sometimes known by the common name of Fall Epeolus. Like other members of this genus, it is described as a cleptoparasite, which means that the female will lay her eggs in another bee’s nest, notably one of the bees in the family. When the eggs hatch, they eat the provisions in the nest.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 2 October, 2014.
Two-Banded Cellophane Cuckoo Bee (Epeolus bifasciatus)
Two-banded cellophane cuckoo bee (female), Epeolus bifasciatus, subfamily Nomadinae, family Apidae.
□ This two-banded cellophane cuckoo bee has two prominent light-colored bands crossing its abdomen. It is photographed here on Virginia mountain mint.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 31 July, 2014.
Canada Cellophane Cuckoo bee (Epeolus canadensis)
Canada cellophane cuckoo bee (female), Epeolus canadensis, subfamily Nomadinae, family Apidae.
□ The angled band at the front of the abdomen is a characteristic feature of the Canada dellophane duckoo bee. It is photographed here on Culver’s root.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 31 July, 2013.
Sumac Cellophane Cuckoo Bee (Epeolus lectoides)
Sumac cellophane cuckoo bee (male), Epeolus lectoides, subfamily Nomadinae, family Apidae.
□ The sumac cellophane cuckoo bee has a series of thin, broken bands on its abdomen. It is photographed here on a gorgeous orange backdrop of butterflyweed.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 13 July, 2014.
Add your photo here! Carpenter bee (Xylocopa californica)
Carpenter bee in the genus Xylocopa, possible the Western Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa californica, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ The western carpenter bee is a large, shiny, black bee. Although the photographer described it as a “scary thing,” — and it can give a start when it lands nearby! — it is actually quite a docile bee that has no interest in engaging with humans.
Photographed by: D. Struthers. Location: Henderson, Nevada, USA. Date: 6 July, 2020.
D. says, “It’s about 1-inch long with a 1-inch wingspan.”
Carpenter bee (Xylocopa caffra)
Carpenter bee, female, Xylocopa caffra, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ This female in this species of carpenter bee has two bold yellow (sometimes white or even orange) bands: one band on the rear of her thorax, and one near the front of her abdomen. The male, on the other hand, is covered in yellowish hairs and has no bands. The female will lay her eggs inside stems of various plants, including aloe and agave.
Photographed by: Natalie Rowles. Location: Pinetown, South Africa (near Durban, KwaZulu-Natal). Date: 30 March, 2020.
Natalie says, “It was so difficult to photograph them as they fly too fast all around pollinating the blue flowers!”
Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)
Eastern carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ The eastern carpenter bee looks very similar to the Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens), except that the eastern carpenter bee has a shiny abdomen with almost no hair. (Some tufts of hair are visible on the rear end of the abdomen in these photos.)
□ A male Eastern Carpenter Bee is distinguished from the female by a large square patch of yellow or yellowish-white in the middle of his face.
Photographed and identified by: Karen Altobelli. Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Date: 3 May, 2020.
Karen says, “There were about 6-8 of them sampling the flowering bushes. They’re big! They didn’t mind my presence.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Yes! They can be nearly an inch (2.5 cm) long!”
Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)
Eastern carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ This photo of an eastern carpenter bee gives a nice view of the thick yellow hairs on its thorax and the front of its abdomen.
Photographed and identified to order by: Maggie Merriman. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ringgold, Georgia, USA. Date: 26 August, 2020.
Violet Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa violacea)
Violet carpenter bee, Xylocopa violacea, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ The genus name of the violet carpenter bee (sometimes called a blue carpenter bee) is Xylocopa, and it comes from the ancient Greek word xylokopos, which means “wood cutter”. This refers to to its habit of boring tunnels into wood. The female lays her eggs in the tunnels — a safe and dry spot for the eggs to hatch and the larvae to develop.
Photographed by: Yanni Petropolus. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: mainland of southwest Greece. Date: 19 June, 2020.
Violet Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa violacea)
Violet carpenter bees, Xylocopa violacea, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ The violet carpenter bee is quite a large species — one of the largest in Europe (these were photographed in France) — with wings that look have a violet sheen depending on the light. The bee at right is covered with pollen.
□ The genus name of Xylocopa comes from the Ancient Greek word xylokopos, which means “wood cutter” and refers to to their habit of boring tunnels into wood. The females lay their eggs in the tunnels — a safe and dry spot for the eggs to hatch and the larvae to develop.
Photographed by: Emma Crook. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Vender, France. Date: 20 August, 2019.
Emma says, “I love bees and am always interested in different species. I have never seen these before.”
Carpenter bee (Xylocopa spp.)
Carpenter bee in the genus Xylocopa, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ This carpenter bee has huge, light-blue eyes.
□ A careful look will also reveal dozens of tiny reddish marks on the surface of this carpenter bee. These are larvae of other insects collectively called parasitoids. Parasitoids lay their eggs in another organism — in this case, in the carpenter bee. Now that the parasitoid’s eggs are hatching, the larvae are emerging from the carpenter bee’s body. Various insects may be parasitoids, including numerous types of wasps.
Photographed and identified as a carpenter bee by: Axay Chauhan. Location: Gujarat, India. Date: 24 February, 2019.
Carpenter bee (Xylocopa spp.)
Carpenter bee, female, in the genus Xylocopa, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ This carpenter bee should have wings, but this one oddly doesn’t. The reason is unknown. Bee researcher Carley McGrady said it is most definitely a female due to “the fuzziness of the legs, the thickness of the abdomen and the width of the head.”
Photographed and identified as perhaps a carpenter bee by: Beverly Hall. Verified as a carpenter bee by: entomologist Elsa Youngsteadt of North Carolina State University. Identified as a female by: researcher Carley McGrady. Thank you to Dr. Youngsteadt and researcher McGrady! Location: Rhode Island. Date: 22 August, 2019.
Beverly says, “Thought this insect was a carpenter bee, which we do have — drilling holes in our house — until I took a closer look.... Looks a bit like wingless large, heavy-set, bee.”
Carpenter bee (Xylocopa pubescens)
Carpenter bee, female, in the genus Xylocopa, probably Xylocopa pubescens, subfamily Xylocopinae, family Apidae.
□ This is a screenshot from a video of this carpenter bee buzzing around on and partially covered by beach sand. The species name of pubescens refers to the copious yellow fuzz on the thorax (centered with a small black spot). Note also the shimmering wings that look black to brown to purple depending on the light.
Photographed by: Marlene. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: on the beach of Sousse City Resort, Tunisia. Date: 2 October, 2020.
Marlene says, “It got stuck in the sand and tried to escape.”
Bumble bee (Bombus auricomus)
Black-and-gold bumble bee, Bombus auricomus, family Apidae.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. This is a male. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 2 September, 2012.
Bumble bee (Bombus auricomus)
Black-and-gold bumble bee, Bombus auricomus, family Apidae.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. This is a worker. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 8 July, 2009.
Northern amber bumble bee (Bombus borealis)
Northern amber bumble bee, queen, Bombus borealis, family Apidae.
□ This queen northern amber bumble bee is on a wildflower known as either a fringed polygala or by the cheery name of gaywings (Polygala paucifolia).
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Bruce Peninsula National Park, Tobermory, Ontario, Canada. Date: 28 May, 2012.
Lemon cuckoo bumble bee (Bombus citrinus)
Lemon cuckoo bumble bee, Bombus citrinus, family Apidae.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 21 June, 2014.
Jackie says this is a female, photographed on a sumac flower.
Golden northern bumble bee (Bombus fervidus)
Golden northern bumble bee, Bombus fervidus, family Apidae.
□ Sometimes the golden northern bumble bee is also known by the simple common name of “yellow bumble bee.”
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 30 May, 2008.
Jackie says this is a queen, photographed on lupine.
Golden northern bumble bee (Bombus fervidus
Golden northern bumble bee, male, Bombus fervidus, family Apidae.
□ Notice the characteristic series of five yellow stripes on the abdomen of this male golden northern bumble bee.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 24 August, 2009.
Jackie says this is a male, photographed on obedient plant (also known as false dragonhead).
Two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus)
Two-spotted bumble bee, male, Bombus bimaculatus, family Apidae.
□ This male two-spotted bumble bee is on a plant called a false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Date: 8 July, 2009.
Jackie says, “This rare plant is a magnet for many insects, including moths.”
Two-spotted bumble bee (Bombus bimaculatus)
Two-spotted bumble bee, Bombus bimaculatus, family Apidae.
□ Those two spots are really obvious in this photo of the two-spotted bumble bee. Great shot, Jackie!
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. This is a worker. It is flying into some lupines that are just opening. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 8 July, 2009.
Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis)
Brown-belted bumble bee, Bombus griseocollis, family Apidae.
□ The top photo is a queen brown-belted bumble bee; the bottom is a worker of the same species.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 30 May, 2006 (queen), 23 July, 2009 (worker).
Common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens)
Common eastern bumble bee, queen, Bombus impatiens, family Apidae.
□ Queen common eastern bumble bees are larger than other females. The queen can be up to an inch long (2.5 cm), which is twice as long as the smaller workers. Some workers, however, can be larger — about 3/5 inch (1.6 cm) long.
□ This queen is on a globeflower.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 29 March, 2005.
Common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens)
Common eastern bumble bee, male, Bombus impatiens, family Apidae.
□ The male common eastern bumble bee can be distinguished from the female by the color of the head and face: yellow in the male, and black in the female.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 15 March, 2012.
Jackie says, “Sometimes, after a mild winter, males will survive and emerge the following spring, to live only a few days.” And males typically have a yellow mustache, as seen in this photo.
Common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens)
Common eastern bumble bee, Bombus impatiens, family Apidae.
Photographed and identified by: Ros Miller. Location: U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C., USA. Date: 29 October, 2018.
Ros says, “We really enjoyed the U.S. National Arboretum.... We particularly enjoyed both the bonsai collection (both the Japanese and Chinese collections are very impressive) and the 250-million-year Chrythansemum Stone which is beautiful and amazing.”
American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus)
American bumble bee, queen, sometimes called a Sonoran Bumble Bee, Bombus pensylvanicus, family Apidae.
□ This queen American bumble bee is pictured on the orange center of a purple coneflower.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 15 June, 2006.
Jackie says, “Never saw one again!”
Orange-belted bumble bee (Bombus ternarius)
Orange-belted bumble bee, queen, sometimes called a Tricolored Bumble Bee, Bombus ternarius, family Apidae.
□ This queen orange-belted bumble bee has a conspicuous orange “belt”. It is sitting on coltsfoot (named for the shape of its leaves, which resemble the imprint of a horse hoof).
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: St. Ann’s Bay, Bird Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada. Date: 9 June, 20011.
Orange-belted bumble bee (Bombus ternarius)
Orange-belted bumble bee, sometimes called a tricolored bumble bee, Bombus ternarius, family Apidae.
□ The beautiful orange belt makes this aptly named orange-belted bumble bee really stand out!
Photographed and identified by: Bill Flor. Location: Los Alamos County (7,500 ft.), New Mexico, USA. Date: 30 August, 2015.
Bill says, “Lavender starting to show the wear and tear of the summer.”
Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenskii)
Yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, family Apidae.
□ The yellow-faced bumble bee not only has a yellow face (as shown in the left photo), but also has a narrow yellow band around its abdomen (as shown in the right photo). This attractive bumble bee is common along the West Coast of the United States.
Photographed and identified as a bumble bee by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 28 December, 2017.
Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenskii)
Yellow-faced bumble bee, queen, Bombus vosnesenskii, family Apidae.
□ The mouthparts of the yellow-faced bumble bee are clearly visible in the right photo. The photographer took the other photo while the bee was taking a 20-minute nap. See the photographer’s comments below.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 25 January, 2020.
Thomas says, “I see these big queens flying around in the winter but they usually fly nonstop and never land, at least for me, (so spotting one resting) was quite an experience!”
Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenskii)
Yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, family Apidae.
□ This series of beautiful close-up photos shows this queen yellow-faced bumble bee (left to right) arriving on scene, getting a little to eat and looking for a good spot to sleep, and just about settled in for a nap, according to the photographer.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. Identified See Thomas’s full-size images here, here and here. More photos of the sleeping Bumble can be found here, here, here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 25 January, 2020.
Bumble bee (Bombus haemorrhoidalis)
Bumble bee, Bombus haemorrhoidalis, family Apidae.
□ This species of bumble bee has a bi-colored abdomen: yellow on the front half, and orange at the rear. According to a study done in 2011, this species of bumble bee is a major pollinator of the black cardamom plant (Amomum subulatum), which produces a popular smoky-tasting spice used in Southeast Asia.
Photographed by: Ambika Bhatt, a student at Garhwal University in Uttarakhand State in northern India (guide: Dr. P.Tiwari). Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fatehpur district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Date: 15 May, 2018.
Bumble bee (Bombus haemorrhoidalis)
Bumble bee, Bombus haemorrhoidalis, family Apidae.
□ This is such a gorgeous Bumble Bee!
Photographed by: Syed Gazanfar. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Kashmir, India. Date: 20 July, 2018.
Red-tailed bumble bee (Bombus lapidarius)
Red-tailed bumble bee, female, Bombus lapidarius, family Apidae.
□ The orange-red rump of this red-tailed bumble bee almost blends in with the flower color. The male and female both have the orange-red rump, but the male has bits of yellow hair mixed in with the black here and there.
Photographed by: Neil Ardeshir. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Street, Somerset, England. Date: 24 July, 2018.
Neil says, “I found this bee on our miniature sunflowers this evening.... it’s huge.”
Half-back bumble bee (Bombus vagans)
Half-back bumble bee, queen, Bombus vagans, family Apidae.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Celista, British Columbia, Canada. Date: 24 June, 2010.
Jackie says this queen is “sleeping on a leaf.”
Nevada bumble bee (Bombus nevadensis)
Nevada bumble bee, queen, Bombus nevadensis, family Apidae.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Location: Celiska, British Columbia, Canada. Date: 24 June, 2010.
KnowYourInsects.org says, “Jackie rocks when it comes to bumblebee identification!”
Bumblebee (Bombus spp.)
Bumble bee, Bombus spp., family Apidae.
Bumble bee colonies are different from those of honey bees. Honey bee hives survive the winter in the north, whereas all but the queen bumble bee die off. The queen bumble bee hibernates, and in the spring emerges and starts laying eggs. As the eggs hatch into worker bees, the colony begins to build.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Kalkaska, Michigan, USA. Date: 8 July, 2012.
Green lynx spider and bumble bee (Bombus)
Bumble bee in the genus Bombus, family Apidae (the honey bee and many other bees) in the clutches of a green lynx spider, Peucetia viridans.
Photographed by: Theresa Goff. Bumble bee identified by: Theresa Goff. Spider identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Clark Gardens Botanical Park, Weatherford (Parker County), Texas, USA. Date: 3 September, 2016.
Bumble bee (Bombus spp.)
Bumble bee in the genus Bombus, possibly Bombus fernaldae, family Apidae.
Photographed and identified to genus by: Iggy Tavares. Identified to tentative species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Big Sky Resort, Montana, USA. Date: June, 2015.
Bumblebee (Bombus spp.)
Bumble bee, Bombus spp., family Apidae.
□ The hairs on a bumble bee’s body collect pollen, and they also serve another purpose, according to research published in 2016: The hairs also detect weak electric fields of flowers so they can home in on them.
Photographed and identified by: Dirk Sundbaum. Location: Auburn, Washington, USA. Date: 16 June, 2003.

Pompilidae, the spider wasps

Spider wasp (Pompilidae)
Spider wasp, family Pompilidae.
□ This spider wasp is blue, an unusual color in the insect world. They are known as spider wasps, because many are in fact predators of spiders: An adult female will sting a spider, and then cart the paralyzed spider back to the nest. There, she will lay an egg on the spider — or inside the spider — so that the hatching larvae will have a feast ready and waiting for them.
□ A characteristic of this family is the spines at joints of their long hind legs, and the spines are evident in both of these photos.
Photographed and identified to order by: Tori Thompson. Identified to family by: Lynn Kimsey, Ph.D., University of California-Davis. Thank you, Dr. Kimsey! Location: Michigan. Date: 14 June, 2021.
Tori rescued this one from a pond. She says, “I was holding him and helping him recover from being drowned. I didn’t think he was going to make it, but he did.”
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Mutillidae, the velvet ants

Velvet Ant (Timulla spp.)
Velvet ant in the genus Timulla, subfamily Mutillinae, family Mutilidae.
Velvet ants are actually wasps. The female (shown) is wingless, which gives it the appearance of an ant, albeit it a beautiful one in red with white and black stripes. The “velvet” is the covering of short hairs, which are visible in these photos.
Photographed by: Karen Tolbert. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: unknown. Date: 24 October, 2019.
Karen says, “First one I’ve seen in my area. It was in hazelnut burrs.”
Velvet Ant
Velvet ant, family Mutillidae (the velvet ants).
□ This hairy wasp, called a velvet ant, has a black head, white-striped black abdomen, and a red thorax.
Photographed by: Yanni Petropoulos. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: mainland of southwest Greece. Date: 3 July, 2020.
Yanni says, “Thanks for identifying the velvet ant. I am getting all these flashbacks from when I was a kid, having seeing all these insects but never paid too much attention to them. So it is nice to know what they are; it is never too late!”
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Mutillid Ant (Odontophotopsis spp.)
Mutillid wasp, male, possibly in the genus Odontophotopsis, subfamily Sphaeropthalminae, family Mutillidae (the velvet ants).
□ This little mutillid wasp (also known as a velvet ant) was just about 1 cm (0.4 inches) long. Characteristics include its unusual rather cone-shaped waist, and the obvious trio of simple eyes (called ocelli) in the middle of its head (visible in the photo at right as a triangle of dark, bead-like spheres behind the antennae (the center ocellus is forward of the other two). Note: Insects have two types of eyes: compound eyes that are made up of many photoreceptor units called ommatidia; and one to three simple eyes, or ocelli, each of which is composed of just one ommatidium. Compound eyes give the insect a wide view of the world around them (its brain combines the images from each ommatidia to create the view), while ocelli are very good at detecting light changes and movement, which is especially helpful for escaping a predator or a fly swatter.
□ This mutillid wasp is one of the nocturnal species, but to identify it to genus is only possible if an expert is able to personally examine the specimen. Only the males have wings; females are wingless.
Photographed and identifid to order by: Tommy Vick. Identified to family by: Lynn Kimsey, Ph.D., University of California-Davis. Verified to family and identified to possible genus by: Kevin A. Williams, Ph.D., California Department of Food & Agriculture. Thank you, Drs. Kimsey and Williams! Location: Fort Davis, Texas, USA. Date: 23 May, 2020.
Tommy spotted this one, already dead in the house. Upon learning it was a nocturnal mutillid wasp, Tommy says, “Nocturnal — that may be why I’ve never noticed it before. It probably slipped into the house following the light.”

Formicidae, the ants

Allegheny Mound Ant
Allegheny mound ant, Formica exsectoides, subfamily Formicinae, family Formicidae.
□ As their name suggests, Allegheny mound ants make large mounded nests. Mounds can be up to 3 feet tall, and are often bare — no plants growing on them at all. Where this was photographed, the mound was about 12 inches (30 cm) tall and approximately 24 inches (61 cm) in diameter.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Kalkaska, Michigan, USA. Date: 31 May 2015.
Ant, Cataglyphis nodus
Desert ant in the genus Cataglyphis, possibly Catagylphis nodus, subfamily Formicinae, family Formicidae.
□ This species of desert ant has waterproofing agents, called cuticular hydrocarbons, on its exoskeleton. This helps protect it from drying out and allows it to be active even in arid environments and in full sun.
Photographed by: Yanni Petropoulos. Location: mainland of southwest Greece. Date: 23 June, 2020.
Carpenter Ant, Camponotus spp.
Carpenter ant in the genus Camponotus, subfamily Formicinae, family Formicidae.
□ A few characteristics of carpenter ants include the elbowed antennae (common to all ants); the large, heart-shaped head, and a single-segment section (called a petiole) separating the thorax from the abdomen.
□ For additional information about carpenter ants, click here (University of Minnesota).
Photographed and identified to family by: Maggie Merriman. Location: Ringgold, Georgia, USA. Date: 27 March, 2019.
Florida carpenter ant (Camponotus floridanus)
Florida carpenter ant, (Camponotus floridanus), subfamily Formicinae, family Formicidae.
□ This appears to be a Florida carpenter ant, which has a red thorax, red to black head, and black abdomen. Female Florida carpenter ants can be almost an inch long; the male reproductives are much smaller. See the comment below.
Photographed and identified to family by: Marv Goldberg. Location: Florida, USA. Date: 29 July 2020.
Marv says, “She was at least 3/4 inch, which is why I noticed her in the first place. I’ve never seen an ant this large in the wild. I guess the carpenter ant giveaway was the hammer and saw she carried.”
Florida Carpenter Ant, Camponotus floridanus
Florida carpenter ant, Camponotus floridanus, subfamily Formicinae, family Formicidae.
□ This is the winged female Florida carpenter ant. Winged ants are known as reproductives or alates. When a colony gets too large, alates are sent out in swarms to find and start a new colony.
□ For additional information about Florida carpenter ants, click here (University of Florida).
Photographed and identified by: Don Keeton. Location: northern Florida, USA. Date: 23 July, 2017.
Ant
Polyrhachis bicolor (no common name), subfamily Formicinae, family Formicidae.
Polyrhachis bicolor has a reddish abdomen, and a black head and thorax. The head is rather triangle-shaped: narrow at the “neck” and widening from there.
Photographed and identified to order by: Samrat Kalita. Identified to species by: Himender Bharti. Location: Assam (Rani), India. Date: 13 February 2017.
Weaver Ant, Oecophylla smaragdina
Weaver ant, also known as a green tree ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, subfamily Formicinae, family Formicidae.
□ The queen weaver ant can reach an inch (2.5 cm) long, and is green, as seen here. The workers are about a quarter to half of the size, and usually orange in color. The photo at right is a nest of weaver ants.
□ They are called weaver ants because they make their nests out of leaves. To hold the leaves together, the workers use the larvae as glue dispensers: Each larva produces silk from its abdomen, so a worker will carry a larva and dab its rear end on the leaves to stick them together.
Photographed and identified by: Binu Correya. Location: Kerala, India. Date: 29 May-2 June, 2020.
Longhorn Crazy Ants, Paratrechina longicornis
Longhorn crazy ants, Paratrechina longicornis, subfamily Formicinae, family Formicidae.
Longhorn crazy ants have very long antennae, which gives them the descriptor “longhorn”, but perhaps the most noteworthy characteristic is their namesake behavior: they run around rather frantically and willy-nilly rather than in a straight line as other ants frequently do. Sometimes, crazy ants will have a noticeable lighter colored band on the abdomen (not shown in this photo).
□ For more information about these tiny ants, click here (University of Florida).
Photographed by: Sheila Bell. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Boynton Beach, Florida. Date: 13 December, 2020.
Sheila has been finding these ants — all dead — in her bathroom.
Arboreal Bicolored Ant, Tetraponera rufonigra
Arboreal bicolored ant, Tetraponera rufonigra, subfamily Pseudomyrmecinae, family Formicidae.
Photographed and identified to order and species by: Samrat Kalita. Location: Assam (Rani), India. Date: 13 February 2017.
KnowYourInsects says, “Great job with the identification, Samrat!”
Ant, Odontomachus spp.
Ponerin ant (and nest) in the genus Odontomachus, subfamily Ponerinae, family Formicidae.
□ The photographer captured not only this Ponerin ant, but also its nest. Note the unusually shaped head.
Photographed and identified by: Binu Correya, assistant professor. Location: Kerala, Ernakulam. Date: 9 June, 2020.
Ant, Odontomachus spp.
Ponerin ant (and nest) in the genus Odontomachus, subfamily Ponerinae, family Formicidae.
□ This Ponerin ant has long and powerful jaws well-suited to grabbing and holding prey. The jaws are shown closed in this photo, but this ant typically walks around with its jaws hinged wide open — side to side.
Photographed and identified by: Binu Correya, assistant professor. Location: Kerala, Ernakulam. Date: 9 June, 2020.
Ant (Diacamma spp.)
Ponerin ant in the genus Diacamma, subfamily Ponerinae, family Formicidae.
□ In most ants, the queen does all of the mating and laying of eggs for the colony, but ponerin ants in this genus do not have a queen. Instead, workers are capable of mating and laying eggs, and one of these workers (called gamergates) takes over the mating and egg-laying duties.
Photographed and identified by: Binu Correya. Location: Kochi, Kerala, India. Date: 30 November, 2019.
White-Footed Ant (Technomyrmex difficilis)
White-footed ant, Technomyrmex difficilis, subfamily Dolichoderinae, family Formicidae.
□ The elbowed antennae are characteristic of ants. And this white-footed ant both have white “feet” (tarsi), which is a feature of this species.
Photographed by: Joan Smith. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tampa, Florida, USA. Date: 19 August, 2017.
White-Footed Ant (Technomyrmex difficilis)
White-footed ant, Technomyrmex difficilis, subfamily Dolichoderinae, family Formicidae.
White-footed ants are tiny, only growing to about 1/10 inch (2.5 mm). The elbowed antennae aren’t evident in this photo, as the ant was discovered dead in some water in a bathroom sink.
Photographed by: Joan Smith. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tampa, Florida, USA. Date: 19 August, 2017.
Joan says she used the microscope setting on her camera to get these photographs.
Leaf-cutter ants
Leaficutter ants in the genus Acromyrmex, possibly Acromyrmex echinatior, subfamily Myrmicinae, family Formicidae.
□ These leaf-cutter ants are living up to their name: they have snipped off leaves and are carrying them back to the nest. Once there, the ants will chew the leaves, and then spit them onto the ground to provide a nice bed on which they can grow fungus, which serves as the colony’s food. In other words, they are self-sufficient fungus farmers!
Photographed and identified as ants by: Marlene. Identified to tentative species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Panama City, Panama. Date: 26 July, 2017.
Ant (Hymenoptera) and aphids
Ant farming aphids, family Formicidae.
□ Many ant species farm aphids. What that means is that the ants protect a group of aphids (more about aphids here) and in return, the ants eat the sugary liquid, called honeydew, that the aphids excrete. It’s an insect version of win-win!
Photographed and identified by: Cheryl Ellis. Location: Howell, Michigan, USA. Date: July, 2019.
Ant
Ant, family Formicidae.
□ The elbowed antennae are clearly shown in this nice photo of an ant. The photographer suggests it could possibly be a back carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus). More information about the 14 species of carpenter ants found in Texas (where this photo was taken) is available here.
Photographed and identified by: Manzeal Khanal. Location: Uvalde, Texas, USA. Date: 10 August 2019.
Ant
Unknown Ant, family Formicidae.
□ When an ant colony reaches a certain size, unfertilized eggs hatch into winged males. The winged males and one winged virgin queen then wait until weather conditions are perfect, and fly off en masse to start a new colony.
Photographed by: Anonymous. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Los Angeles, California, USA. Date: 26 November 2016.


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Unless noted otherwise, photographs on this website are the property of the photographers and may not be reused without written permission from the photographers. To obtain permission, request it here.

Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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