Other Common Names
Great Black Wasp
Katydid Hunter (note: may refer to various members of this genus and beyond)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Nearctica lists it as pensylvanica, which is wrong because the gender of the genus is male.
Sphex pensylvanica Linnaeus, 1763
Ammobia pensylvanica (Linnaeus)
Chlorion pensylvanicum (Linnaeus)
Sphex pensylvanicus robustisoma Strand, 1916
males average 22 mm; females average 28 mm
A big blue-black wasp. Frequents flowers. Compare Chalybion?
Throughout the U.S. except the northwest (1)
Canada: Ontario, Quebec
Summer, esp. July, August. Brimley, p. 444, gives season as July-September in North Carolina (2)
Adults take nectar and/or pollen.
Provision nests (in burrow in soft earth) with Katydids or grasshoppers. (Univ. Florida lists: Tettigoniidae in genera Microcentrum and Scudderia.) Usually about three are placed in a nest.
Appears to be less frequently encountered across its range than Sphex ichneumoneus
(based on U. of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Division of Insects page on S. pensylvanicus
with map of Michigan records.
Arnett, p. 595, describes (3)
Evans, pp. 49-51, 55-56 describes life history. (4)
Salsbury, p. 283--photo (5)
Bohart, R. M. and A. S. Menke. 1963. A reclassification of the Sphecinae with a revision of the nearctic species of the tribes Sce1iphronini and Sphecini (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). Univ. Calif. Publ. Ent. 30: 91-182.
Insects of Cedar Creek
--they label as "Sphex species", but mention "S. pennsylvanicus" on the Sphecidae family page
lists occurence in July and August.
--excellent photo [pic gone - just text; Robin McLeod 19 Jul 2005]
page giving prey records
Some California records: Essig Museum of Entomology
, Berkeley, CA
Some records mapped at DiscoverLife