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Thread-waisted Wasp (Various spp.)

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

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Image Credit: Hugo B., taken in CA
Full-sized image of the Thread-Waisted-Wasp Thumbnail image of the Thread-Waisted-Wasp
Image Credit: Hugo B., taken in CA
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Thread-waisted Wasps may look fragile, but they have tremendous strength in their small bodies, tackling hefty caterpillars on a daily basis.

Updated: 01/05/2024; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Thread-waisted Wasps are also known as Needle-waisted Wasps. It is hard to believe that fluids can pass through such a narrow center, but it works. They frequent blossoms to drink from and hunt on. Popular plant varieties to check are asters, Queen Anne's lace, horsemint, and goldenrod. The black body can appear blue in some light and the thorax has white spots on near the joints where the legs connect. They have strong jaws and are nimble in flight.

Found on flowers either mating, searching for caterpillars, or drinking nectar, female Thread-waisted Wasps work hard to ensure the next generation gets a great start. She builds a burrow and fills it with fertilized eggs. She hunts and tackles a plump caterpillar and stings it, paralyzing, but not killing it. She then hauls the paralyzed caterpillar back to her burrow and places it next to her eggs. She carefully covers the entrance of her burrow with dirt, debris and rocks to hide it from things that would eat her eggs and rob her of all her hard work. Once hatched, the wasp larvae feed on the still living, but immobile caterpillar until they pupate. When they emerge as winged adults, the search for nectar to drink and a mate begins anew.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Sphecidae
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 30mm (0.39" to 1.18")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; white
Descriptors: skinny waist; black; white dots; thin; needle; dauber; flying; stinging; big pincers

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 30mm (1.2in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 20mm
Hi: 30mm

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 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 Thread-waisted Wasp. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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