Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Philanthus frigidus, Aphilanthops bakeri, Nomada (Holonomada) dawsoni
Males and females similar. Marks, stripes and spots can be either yellow or white.
Head: Black with 3 wide yellow stripes: one each along inner eye margin, and one median stripe. Median stripe progressively narrows beyond antenna bases. (Female median stripe does not reach to antenna bases.) Lower margin of clypeus has 3 teeth on male, 5 on female. Back of eyes sometimes have a partial yellow stripe along margin. Mandibles yellow, tips reddish.
Antenna: Base (scape) black on top side with a yellow ring, slightly swollen yellow on underside of male; female dark on underside. Segments black on top side, reddish-yellow on underside.
Thorax: Black. Collar thin, yellow, slightly interrupted or indented at center. Segment 1 (scutum) black, may have long transverse yellow stripe on lower margin; may be absent. An oblong yellow spot before wing knob (tegulae). Segment 2 (scutellum) may have a small yellow spot at center, sometimes absent. Segment 3 (propodeum) has yellow triangular spots at each side. Thorax side tubercle black, may have a small yellow spot. A large yellow crescent between tubercle and wing base.
Wings: Wing knobs (tegulae) black with a yellow spot. Wings tinted dusky, veins pale reddish-brown.
Legs: Thighs (femora) black with yellow tips, yellow on underside. Shins (tibiae) yellow. Feet progressively darker.
Females have rakes or combs on front shins and feet for digging.
Abdomen: Black with yellow/white stripes. Stripes on female are wider than on male. Segment 1 has an oval to triangular mark at each side; wider than other stripes. Segment 2 stripe slightly narrower, interrupted at center. Segments 3 to 5 on female, to 6 on male have thin stripes, all interrupted or narrowed at center. Tip black to reddish with white hair tuft on male. Underside also striped.
Northern U.S. across to east coast, down to Virginia; west coast down to New Mexico. Transcontinental in southern Canada.
Sandy soils in meadows, vacant lots and forest edges with ants.
Late June to mid-August on east coast and southern U.S. July to August in northern U.S. and Canada.
Prey on winged queen ants in the genus Formica
Nests are dug in sandy, pebbly soil to a depth of 45 cm. Sometimes form aggregate colonies of 25 to 60 females, especially on sandy slopes with entrances as close as 2 cm apart. Winged queen ants are captured when wandering on the ground, stung and carried to nests with ant antenna between wasp mandibles and rest of body held between the legs. In the nest tunnel, wings are removed and ants are stored near entrance in a cell until individual egg cells are dug. Storage is necessary due to the short flight cycle of winged ants. Females possibly can lay only one egg per day (Evans, 1962). Usually 2 to 3 ants are used in each cell. One generation per year.
Parasite: Miltogrammid Fly Senotainia trilineata lays live larvae on winged ant prey while in flight to the nest.
Holotype as Philanthus frigidus male by Smith, 1856. Locality: Nova Scotia collected by Lieut. Redman. In British Museum of Natural History, London, England. Lectotype designated by Bohart, 1966.
Holotype as Aphilanthops bakeri male by Dunning, 1896, Baker #1631 &1636. Locality: Colorado. In National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian. Lectotype male in Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Holotype as Nomada (Holonomada) dawsoni male by Swenk, 1912. Locality: Harrison, Sioux County, Nebraska; collected by Dawson. In University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Similar Species: Philanthus species have inner eye margin indented, Aphilanthops does not. Cerceris species have 1st abdominal segment constricted, Aphilanthops does not. Aphilanthops subfrigidus on the west coast has entirely black antenna, otherwise identical to A. frigidus.
Behavior, 1962, Vol. 19 #3: A Review of Nesting Behavior of Digger Wasps of the Genus Aphilanthops, with special attention to the mechanics of prey carriage by Evans, pp. 239 to 260.
Catalogue of Hymenopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum, 1856, Pt. 4 by Smith, pg. 475.
Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History, 1878-80, Vol. 20, pp. 401 to 403 by Patton.
The Canadian Entomologist, 1896, Vol. 28, pp. 203 to 205 by Dunning.
Transactions of the American Entomological Society, 1898-99, Vol. 25, pp. 20 to 21 by Dunning.
Wasps Social and Solitary, 1905 by Peckham pp. 167 to 173.
The University Studies of the University of Nebraska, 1912, Vol. 12 by Swenk, pp. 83 to 84.
The Journal of Animal Behavior, 1913, Vol. 3: A solitary wasp (Aphilanthops frigidus) that provisions its nest with queen ants by Wheeler.
The University Studies of the University of Nebraska, 1915, Vol. 15 by Swenk, pg. 18.
Connecticut Geology and Natural History Survey, 1916, #22, pg. 672.
Ohio Journal of Science, 1956, Vol. 56 by Ristich: Host relationship of a Miltogrammid Fly Senotainia trilineata.
Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 1966, Vol. 68, pg. 10 by Bohart.
Bulletin of the California Insect Survey, 1975, Vol. 19: California Wasps Subfamily Philanthinae by Bohart & Grissell, pp. 20 to 21.