Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington

IL Black Wasp - Sphex pensylvanicus

IL Black Wasp - Sphex pensylvanicus
Spring Grove, McHenry County, Illinois, USA
August 23, 2008
Size: 1.5-2 in
Just wondering about this "black wasp" which has taken over my mint plant. There are lots of them along with some bumble bees and other little bees. Some are not so big, maybe an inch long but others are huge! Looks like a Giant Black Wasp from what I can tell from this site but I am not a buggie so I have no real clue. Can they sting?

This wasp is also in MN
My husband and I were talking with a neighbor next to our veggie and herb garden. Suddenly this huge insect lands in the garden and I thought it was a darker dragon fly (in MN there are lots of different types of dragon flies chewing up mosquitoes).

So, I moved in close to look at it. To my surprise it was a huge black wasp. I was scared by the thing and quickly backed away. I saw another one today (or the same one I don't know).

This is the first time in my life I have ever seen such a thing and I'm in my early 40s. From where did they come?

Black Wasp Sting
Yes, they do sting and its a nasty bite. I was recently bitten in the bum (LOL) and it IS by far the worst insect bite I have ever suffered (knocking on wood).

I was stung one month ago and I am still dealing with it, i.e. itching.

They love my composter and not knowing what they were I swatted at them and of course got a well deserved bite in the butt.

I felt the sting immediately and within a few minutes a 2" round swollen area appeared. It did not respond to antihistamine or prescription strength hydrocortisone.

The next day the swollen area developed a bright red ring that spread a few centimeters for a week.

This was followed by a fluid filled sack (gross I know) that developed small rash like bumps and pustules.

Oddly, none of this elicited itching at the time.

3 weeks into this ordeal the itching began but luckily the redness subsided and the rash diminished.

One month later it still looks ugly, it itches but is healing slowly.

I occasionally find a dead wasp in the composter so I have gotten a very good look at them and indeed we are talking about the same critter.

I now have a profound respect for these critters and only go near my composter in the early morning hours when these guys are not yet out and about.

Females can sting.
This is indeed a "great black wasp," Sphex pensylvanicus, probably a male. Females are larger and more robust. Many wasps come to mint, and other black ones would be in the genera Isodontia and Podalonia, and possibly Prionyx.

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.