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For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Fall Fund Drive


Genus Sphex

Great Black Wasp - Sphex pensylvanicus Sphex lucae Some sort of Digger Wasp - Sphex habenus Sphex ichneumoneus? - Sphex ichneumoneus Wasp - Sphex jamaicensis Isodontia? - Sphex dorsalis - male Unknown Insect photo graphed by Mel Pollinger - Sphex pensylvanicus sphecid 1 - Sphex pensylvanicus
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
No Taxon (Apoid Wasps (Apoidea)- traditional Sphecidae)
Family Sphecidae (Thread-waisted Wasps)
Subfamily Sphecinae
Tribe Sphecini
Genus Sphex
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Sphex Linnaeus, 1758
Although the name is masculine, Linnaeus treated it as feminine, and many other authors followed. When searching for a Sphex species name, it's best to try both masculine and feminine endings.
Explanation of Names
Greek sphex (σφηξ), the ancient name of a kind of wasp.
12 spp. in 2 subgenera (Fernaldia with just 1 sp.) in our area(1), ~120 spp. worldwide(2); 9 spp. in e. US(3)
Up to 28 mm
worldwide and throughout NA(4)
Adults take nectar.
Life Cycle
Prey on katydids, Tettigoniidae, utilizing one species per wasp species. Nest is built in ground, somewhat gregarious.
Print References
Bohart, R. M., and A. S. Menke. 1963. A reclassification of the Sphecinae, with a revision of the Nearctic species of the tribes Sceliphronini and Sphecini (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). University of California Publications in Entomology 30(2):91-182.