The Great Black Wasp

Great Black Wasp

Great Black Wasp

Sphex pensylvanicus, has a descriptive common name, the Great Black Wasp.  This conspicuous wasp is 22 to 28 mm long (females are larger) and are commonly seen on milkweed and other sources of nectar.  The wasp is mostly black with an iridescent blue color on the forewings.  The tips of the wings are black.

This giant wasp digs a tunnel for her offspring and provisions the nest, typically with katydids.  Many of the katydid prey are larger than the wasp.  Katydids are immobilized with wasp venom and flown back to the nest.  A single immature may require multiple katydids to complete development.  The tunnels are about a half meter long.  After the female provisions a cell with food and lays a single egg, the chamber is sealed and another begun in the same tunnel.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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