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 helps pollinate plants. Every adult, however, was raised on a diet of Katydids and their relatives, Grasshoppers or 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. This juvenile diet helps keep the katydid, cricket and grasshopper populations under control in areas where Great Black Wasps are present.
Adult Great Black Wasps may look mean, but they are disinterested in humans and are not bothersome. That said, they can sting if mishandled or threatened, so looking is safer than touching.
Scientific Name: Sphex pensylvanicus
Other Name(s): Katydid Hunter, Steel-blue Cricket Hunter
Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 35mm (0.78in to 1.37in)
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
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
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.