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Great Black Wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Great Black Wasp.

 Updated: 6/14/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The iridescent Great Black Wasp pollinates flowers while feeding itself, and removes plant pests while feeding its young making it a great friend to gardens and fields.



Steely blue-black and large, the Great Black Wasp is a nectar and pollen eater. It can be seen visiting flowers in the hottest parts of the summer and early fall and help pollinate plants. Every adult, however, was raised on a diet of Katydids, Grasshoppers or Crickets. (Katydids are relatives of grasshoppers and crickets.)

Great Black Wasps are part of the Digger Wasp family, creating burrows in the soil. Adult female wasps hunt for insects after laying fertilized eggs in this underground nest. Each egg laid in a tunnel and a Katydid or Cricket is placed next to it. Once the egg hatches, the emerging larva has an immediate food source and will devour the insect as it grows and develops. Their juvenile diet helps keep the katydid, cricket and grasshopper populations under control.

Adult Great Black Wasps may look mean, but they are disinterested in humans and are not bothersome, though they can sting if mishandled or threatened.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Sphecidae
          Genus: Sphex
            Species: pensylvanicus
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Sphex pensylvanicus
Other Name(s): Katydid Hunter, Steel-blue Cricket Hunter
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 35mm (0.78in to 1.37in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, blue
Descriptors: large, blue, steel, shiny, flying, stinging, waist
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of both a bee and an ant insect
1
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
2
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
3
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
4
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
5
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.