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Scoliid Wasp with four orange spots - Scolia nobilitata

Scoliid Wasp with four orange spots - Scolia nobilitata
Durham County, North Carolina, USA
July 19, 2003
Size: circa 12 mm
This small (circa 1 cm) wasp is seen with fair frequency here in Durham NC on mid-late summer flowers, such as Mountain-mint. I had thought this was likely Campsomeris quadrimaculata, but it is small, and Herschel Raney has examined specimens of that species and found it to be quite large. Hmm. Perhaps the missing Scolia nobilitata reported for North Carolina--see comments below. (Internet references on guide page confirm this as S. nobilitata.)

The pattern is very reminiscent of a Flower Longhorn, Typocerus lunulatus. Perhaps the longhorn is a Batesian mimic of the (stinging) wasp.

Scoliid wasp
Geez, you folks in the southeast have an incredible diversity of scoliid wasps (family Scoliidae)! I have never seen so many different species.

Thanks, might be S. nobilitata, or C. quadrimaculata
Thanks, Eric. Maybe I can narrow it down from there. I'll try to get a better photo too--that was from last year, but I've seen them about this summer. A Scolia nobilitata is abundant in the NCSU collection (193 pinned), though they misspelled it in the database as "nobilita". No photos out there I can find. Looks very suspicious, given the abundance in the collection and my finding it abundant here as well.

Campsomeris quadrimaculata is probably what this is. It is found in the NCSU collection with 42 specimens.

Not really that diverse a family, even in the wasp-rich southeast. NCSU lists just these genera and six species for that state (North Carolina)
Scoliid listing:
Campsomeris--plumipes (194), quadrimaculata (42)
Scolia--bicincta (125), dubia (220), nobilita = nobilitata (193)
Trielis--octomaculatus(a) (38)

We seem to have a lot of wasps, period--there is a dizzying array found on flowers. Now that I know Scolia bicincta, I see it all the time. S. dubia is pretty common too.

Thanks again,
Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

Just came from the University of Arkansas museum where I was delivering some robbers but we stay all day and I pulled many wasp drawers preparing to take some this year. We pulled the Scolid drawer and inside it were a monster species which was as large as the Sphecid giant Spheciosus, the Cicada Killer. It was labelled as Campsomeris quadrimaculata. I realized the image on my site was of the same insect and I had mistaken it for the Cicada Killer. I modified the page. I wanted to add a Scolid page anyway. I don't think this small Scolid is C quad.

Scolia nobilitata--confirmed
I found an image of this small Scoliid on the web, and Dick Walton of Brownbag Productions verified that this is Scolia nobilitata. The image taken by them was from Durham, North Carolina, where this is a common species. References are in guide page. It is a widespread, common species, and probably shows up in Arkansas as well. It is abundant right now here in Durham on flowers--perhaps the most common wasp at the moment.

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

Thanks Herschel
OK, good to know that. This was quite small, so is not the C. quadrimaculata. That's what I get for speculating.
I'm moving this up to the family level!

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

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