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Digger wasp - Hoplisoides

Digger wasp - Hoplisoides
Licking County, Ohio, USA
September 14, 2005
Size: 5/8"
Fun to watch these critters working away, but I'm curious about safety. This is in a long thin flower bed adjacent to my house. I spend a lot of time behind the house, my outdoor cat likes to lay in this bed, and I routinely pull weeds and stray seedlings from it.

Images of this individual: tag all
Digger wasp - Hoplisoides Digger wasp - Hoplisoides

Moved from Bembicinae.

Hoplisoides cf. costalis
John, I disagree with your det in this case. I am not familiar with Psammaletes (which is supposed to have a pedunculate and strongly humped tergum I unlike this specimen) but I recently reviewed the Canadian Hoplisoides (in press with the Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario). Within this genus the wing pattern is consistent with H. costalis and H. placidus. I am inclined towards the former which has a small metapleural pit (difficult to see here). The pygidial plate is also different but not visible on the images. Very nice shots of an uncommon wasp though!

I did make a mistake
As Dr. Buck indicates this is indeed Hoplisoides cf. costalis, not Psammaletes. I apologize for my erroneous identification.

The image matched specimens det. as P. mexicanus
in the AMNH, including shape of tergum I

But perhaps the reference specimens I studied were misdet?

Or perhaps I failed to note critical details?

In any case I'll recheck the ID soon

The following image may be of interest as it seems to be of either the same or a very similar species:

The bugguide image is Hoplisoides not Psammaletes
as Dr. Buck indicated. However, the image by Steve Nanz in the link above seems to actually be Psammaletes mexicanus, not Hoplisoides. Note the prey, which seems to be Ormenoides venusta (the recorded prey of Psammaletes mexicanus) or a similar flatid, not a membracid as would be expected for Hoplisoides costalis or placidus. Also, note the yellow on the propodeum, narrow lateral face markings, and what appears to be a humped T1. Of course I would like Dr. Buck's verification now that I have a bad reputation for gorytine dets.

I don't know why I misdet. the bugguide image. Evidently I was in too much of a hurry and misperceived T1 to be humped when it clearly is not!

Images added to guide
I added the images to which Dr. Ascher refers here.

Psammaletes mexicanus (Cameron)
based on color pattern, shape, punctation, and wing color

this may be a new state record

I may have a specimen or two.
I may have a specimen or two from Cincinnati, will have to check.

Cool, let me know. Otherwise I'm sure I could collect one next summer/fall.

If you don't have one, would I need to submit the specimen somewhere to qualify it as an actual record? I'm sure I could find a home for it at OSU.

Thanks John. I added another view to help rule out any similar species.

I know nothing about wasp taxonomy. Should the guide page for Psammaletes be placed directly inside Nyssoninae?

Bembicidae: Gorytinae
genus is either Hoplisoides or Psammaletes; tricky to distinguish from a photo

May be one of the Cerceris. It would take a very aggressive act to get a digging wasp to sting you. Even pulling prey from their grasp would likely not result in stinging. Very safe to be in close proximity. Not true of course of the Yellow Jacket group or any of the social wasps.

Agree and disagree:-)
I agree with Herschel's comments on safety. They pose no threat whatsoever. I disagree on the genus identification, though. This reminds me of Gorytes, which prey on leafhoppers and sharpshooters, rather than Cerceris, which prey on weevils. Sometimes you have to see what prey the wasp is carrying in order to make a field ID. This is certainly a magnificent image!

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