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Photo#1084002
Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female

Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - Female
Tonopah Desert, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
October 12, 2014
Size: 25 to 30mm
These are close up images of a large female Thread-waisted Wasp in the genus Ammophila. I noticed her flying around, close to the house and then she would come back to digging this hole. I could hear her vibrating the dirt from several feet away. These wasps use pebbles as a type of a Jack-hammer, to loosen up the soil, during burrow excavations. They also use them to pack down soil and compress it, during the elaborate cover-up operations, after the hunting and egg-laying processes.
Here are the five best character groups for ID info on this wasp:
1) - size = very big, one of the largest in the genus
2) - color = orange abdomen & legs, black head & thorax (Abdominal colors are variable in this genus.)(wings are clear)
3) - hairs = very short & silvery, broken up by patches & lines, extends onto legs
4) - legs = spurs are short and thick, smooth textures on most leg parts, hairs are very short, thicker & grayish on the tarsi (tarsal spines are short)
5) - mandibles = dark edges & light brown or tan colored, large, thick & strong (for carrying & using rocks)

Images of this individual: tag all
Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female Thread-waisted Wasp Burrowing - Ammophila - female

ID information from DiscoverLife.org
After reviewing several of the detailed ID descriptions of the wasps in this genus that are listed on the DiscoverLife.org website, I have concluded that this wasp is most likely a female Ammophila cleopatra.

Here is a link to the ID info, for this specific species, on that website:
DiscoverLife.org listing for Ammophila cleopatra

Please note the following characters from that website's information that can be seen in my images:
1) - Female. Average length 20.5 mm., range: 14.5-24 mm.
2) - Color. Black; tegula orange or brown, sometimes black anteriorly; abdomen red except for black gastral segment V and triangular black spot on tergite IV (western United States) or petiole sternite and most of tergite black and only gastral segment I red (east of one-hundredth meridian).
3) - Range. (fig.148). Ammophila cleopatra occurs from the Pacific Coast to Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Alabama, A few males have been seen from North and South Carolina and Georgia that appear to be cleopatra. More collecting is needed in the eastern United States to accurately determine the range of cleopatra. A. cleopatra occurs over much of the north central plateau region of Mexico.
4) - Variation. A. is blacker east of the Rocky Mountains as indicated in the description. The scutal rugae are sometimes feeble or lacking especially in material from the northern part of the range.
5) - Systematics. This species can usually be recognized by the transverse rugae or ridges on the scutum. In addition, the perpendicular arrangement of the hairs forming the propodeal aide of the band along the metapleural sulcus is distinctive (fig. 52).
Also noted: Fernald (1934) confused this species with juncea Cresson. He also identified some of the eastern cleopatra as urnaria or “arvensis”.
END (of web reference list)


NOTE: Further investigations of variable traits may confirm that on many western species, the abdominal segments may have more or less black coloring in them and they may be almost all red, such as in the case of this particular wasp.
Here is a link to a video that I made of another female wasp, very similar this one, with more black on the petiole and a fuzzy black spot on the segment T4: (3min. duration)(I may submit her images later on)
♀ Thread-waisted Wasp Covering Up - Ammophila cleopatra

Moved
Moved from ID Request.