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Species Sphex pensylvanicus - Great Black Digger Wasp

Black wasp - Sphex pensylvanicus Great Black Wasp - Sphex pensylvanicus - female Sphecidae? - Sphex pensylvanicus - female Lg.Black/Blue wasp - Sphex pensylvanicus Wasp on goldenrod - Sphex pensylvanicus Female, Sphecinae - Sphex pensylvanicus - female NC Sphecinae - Sphex pensylvanicus - male Big Mud Dauber ? - Sphex pensylvanicus - female
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 (traditional Sphecidae))
Family Sphecidae (Thread-waisted Wasps)
Subfamily Sphecinae
Tribe Sphecini
Genus Sphex
Species pensylvanicus (Great Black Digger Wasp)
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
Meadows, fields, etc.
Summer, esp. July, August. Brimley, p. 444, gives season as July-September in North Carolina (2)
Adults take nectar and/or pollen.
Life Cycle
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.
Print References
Brimley, p. 444 (2)
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.
Internet References
Insects of Cedar Creek--they label as "Sphex species", but mention "S. pennsylvanicus" on the Sphecidae family page. Phenology lists occurence in July and August.
Fred Miranda--excellent photo [pic gone - just text; Robin McLeod 19 Jul 2005]
Univ. Florida page giving prey records
Some California records: Essig Museum of Entomology, Berkeley, CA
Some records mapped at DiscoverLife
Works Cited
1.Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
Eric Eaton, Kenn Kaufman. 2006. Houghton Mifflin.
2.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
3.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
4.Wasp Farm
Howard Ensign Evans. 1963. Comstock Publishing.
5.Insects in Kansas
Glenn A. Salsbury and Stephan C. White. 2000. Kansas Dept. of Agriculture.