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Genus Ammophila

Wasp - Ammophila - male Ammophila procera? - Ammophila Thread-waisted Wasp - Ammophila Ammophila procera? - Ammophila Sphecidae? - Ammophila Black Wasp with White Face and Two White Stripes on Thorax - Ammophila Ammophila with twig-like caterpillar prey - Ammophila - female Ammophila
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 Ammophilinae
Genus Ammophila
Other Common Names
Thread-waisted wasps (also applies to the rest of the family)
Thread-waisted sand wasps
Explanation of Names
Ammophila W. Kirby 1798
'sand lover'
61 spp. in our area(1), >200 total(2)
11-38 mm (most species 20-25 mm)
Medium-sized black wasps with a relatively long petiole ("thread-waisted"), and usually with orange on the abdomen.
Podalonia are similar, but typically have the bulbous part of the abdomen bent upward and lying above the distal end of the petiole; whereas in Ammophila the abdomen is typically straight or bent downward at the distal end of the petiole --see figures A & C in(3)
Ammophila vs Podalonia
Generally, males have weaker reddish markings than females, are more slender, and lack a tarsal rake on the front legs.
Identification to species difficult.
Holarctic; widespread in NA
Summer into early fall. In NC, Apr-Nov (depending on species), typically May-Oct(4); in MI, Jun-Oct, typically Jul-Aug(5)
Adults visit flowers. Larva feed on caterpillars and sawflies provisioned by the adult female.
Life Cycle
Parasitoids on caterplillars and sawflies. A burrow is dug by the female and an egg is laid in the paralyzed host in the burrow. May be several generations per year.
Behavior described in(6)
Print References
Brockmann (1985) on tool use in Sphecinae
Menke A.S. (1964) New species of North American Ammophila (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). Acta Hymenopterol. 2: 5-27.
Menke A.S. (1966) New species of North American Ammophila, Part II (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 79: 25-40. (Full text)
Menke A.S. (1966) A revision of the North American Ammophila (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). Ph.D. thesis. Univ. California. Dissertation Abstracts 26(4): 1-251.
Menke A.S. (1967) New species of North American Ammophila, Part III. (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). Los Angeles County Museum Contributions in Science 123: 1-8. (Full Text)
Menke A.S. (2007) Ammophila nancy Menke, a new species in the pruinosa complex (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Ammophilinae). Zootaxa 1546: 31–38
Stevens, L.E. & Menke, A.S. (2014). Biogeography of Ammophila (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) in the Grand Canyon ecoregion, southwestern USA. Western North American Naturalist 74(2): 216-222. (Full Text)
Works Cited
1.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
2.Catalog of Sphecidae sensu lato
3.Sphecid wasps of the world: a generic revision
Richard Mitchell Bohart, Arnold S. Menke. 1976. University of California Press.
4.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
5.The Sphecid Wasps of Michigan (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sphecinae), by M.F. O'Brien
6.Wasp Farm
Howard Ensign Evans. 1963. Comstock Publishing.