This Thread-Waisted Wasp builds nests in the ground, a place many people never think to look when flying adults swing by.
A tiny waist connects the black head and thorax of the female Sphex lucae to its red-orange abdomen. The narrow waist is as wide as a thread or hair, which boggles the mind, but the physiology works. Males are completely black. Wings have an orange tint when spread open. Females use their legs, spiked with hairs, to pulls loose soil or sand up as they dig burrows into the ground. This burrow becomes a nest for fertilized eggs where cells are filled with immobilized caterpillars and katydids, awaiting larval consumption.
This species of wasp may be alone or in the company of others like it. It can be social despite being considered a solitary type of wasp. If a nest is disturbed when a female is near, or the wasp is threatened, it can sting. Generally, though, nests are built away from areas with high foot-traffic so aggressive encounters do not seem common.
Scientific Name: Sphex lucae
Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 28mm (0.78in to 1.09in)
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.