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Thread-waisted Wasp (Ammophila spp.)

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

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Image Credit: Jaye B. taken outside Bishop, CA
Full-sized image of the Thread-Waisted-Wasp-Ammophila Thumbnail image of the Thread-Waisted-Wasp-Ammophila

Fans of sandy soil, the Thread-waisted Wasps from the Ammophila genus use the loose earth to house their offspring.

Updated: 08/23/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Incredibly narrow waists are a standard feature on Thread-waisted Wasps. Female Thread-waisted. Some have red bodies and black wings. Others are completely black. This type of wasp is a solitary creature. After mating, females dig small caverns into the ground using their legs and jaws. Inside the hole, an egg is laid and a plump, paralyzed caterpillar 'pillow' is placed inside with it. Once the wasp larva hatches, it consumes the immobile, living caterpillar. After a cavern has been filled, the female covers it with compacted soil to hide her treasure while it grows and develops.

Adults drink flower nectar and can be found roaming over the ground in arid and semi-arid regions. They are active during the day and can sting in defense if threatened, but they are not considered aggressive.

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: Ammophila
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Ammophila spp.
Other Name(s): Sand Wasp
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 25mm (0.70" to 0.98")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, red, orange
Descriptors: digging, skinny, needle, waist, flying, stinging

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 18mm (0.7in) and 25mm (1.0in)
Lo: 18mm
Md: 21.5mm
Hi: 25mm
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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