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Common Thread-waisted Wasp (Ammophila procera)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Thread-waisted Wasp

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The Thread-waisted Wasp is an active hunter, searching for and paralyzing caterpillars and other insects in order to feed its offspring.

Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The incredibly narrow 'waist' on this wasp led to its name. The glossy black wasp has a bulging abdomen with a red or orange band near the hair-thin waist. Long, skinny legs are black and allow the wasp to hold onto vegetation while it watches for potential prey. Large, glossy eyes are black and on the sides of the head. Large mouth parts are on the front of the head.

The Thread-waisted Wasp is an ambush attacker, immobilizing insect prey with a swift venomous sting. Its powerful jaws aid it in carrying or dragging the numb victim back to an underground lair. A relative of Mud Daubers, the Thread-waisted Wasp builds a similar style of burrow in loose dirt. Inside, tunnels or cells are excavated and the paralyzed prey is tucked inside. One egg is laid on the alive-but-motionless food source, and when the egg hatches, the parasitic wasp larva begins consuming the paralyzed victim, eating nonessential parts first. By the time the meal is completed, the wasp has matured into adult form and flies away from the nest.

Adults drink flower nectar and feed on small insects they catch in the open. Since many plant-consuming caterpillars are taken as larvae food, this insect could be considered beneficial to gardeners and farmers. They are not known to be aggressive toward humans, though stepping on, or rough handling may result in a defensive sting.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Insect stinger icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Sphecidae
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          Genus: Ammophila
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            Species: procera
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Ammophila procera
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 16mm to 55mm (0.62" to 2.16")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; orange; red
Descriptors: flying, stinging

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 16mm (0.6in) and 55mm (2.2in)
Lo: 16mm
Md: 35.5mm
Hi: 55mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Thread-waisted Wasp may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Common Thread-waisted Wasp. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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