Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Photo#220272
Ammophila kennedyi? - Ammophila

Ammophila kennedyi? - Ammophila
Bolsa Chica Wildlife Preserve, Orange County, California, USA
August 31, 2008
Size: ~5-6cm
Almost certainly genus Ammophila. Does anyone have a reference that might help narrow down the species? It seems pretty distinctive. There are likely other instances of this species at the genus level in the guide. This one seems very close.

About eight individuals of this wasp species were investigating a patch of sand, landing quickly and then taking off again. In flight they bend the abdomen up at almost a 90 degree angle, which I've never seen another wasp do. At first I thought these wasps were damselflies and the abdomen was the wings until I got a closer look with my binoculars.

Female!
Elliotte, your wasp is a female. She looks to be very close to Eric's image of a female Ammophila aberti, from Arizona: (as well as Hartmut's image, that you already linked)
Please note that I think your size estimate is about twice what it should be and these females are rarely over 4cm. In fact, if I'm right about the species ID, then she is most likely closer to 3cm. Maybe they are bigger in California, I'm not sure.
ID reference note:
Here is a bit of the ID info for A. aberti females, that you might like to read: (copied from Google Books)(links are on the info tab)
"... First segment of the abdomen more or less black above, sometimes a black line on the base of the second segment above; the fourth and fifth segments vary from entirely black to red with a black spot above."

Ammophila.
This is NOT A. kennedyi, as I have a specimen identified by an expert that bears no resemblance to this...Great image, though, and at some point it may be identified to species.