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Spider Wasp - Anoplius aethiops - female

Spider Wasp - Anoplius aethiops - Female
Doddridge County, West Virginia, USA
October 15, 2006
Sphex pensylvanica? Is this a male...the left one is curled antenna and the right one appears broken.

[edited 10/17/06 I left my original reference to Spex pensylvanica, Great Black Wasp]

Images of this individual: tag all
Spider Wasp - Anoplius aethiops - female Spider Wasp? - Anoplius aethiops - female Spider Wasp? - Anoplius aethiops - female

This is actually identifiable to species (as in almost all spider wasp ID's, strongly supported, not absolute). Edward is correct, subgenus Lophopompilus of the genus Anoplius. The notch in the clypeus is not visible, but the hairiness of the head and thorax and the arcuate hind margin of the pronotum is (two very good characters for this subgenus).It's a female, and judging from the short and few tarsal comb spines it's the all black Anoplius aethiops. This species is very similar to A. (L.) cleora, but the female of that species usually has longer comb spines on the basitarsus and they number four (usually three in A. aethiops). The notch in the clypeus (shield above the mandibles) is deeper and more distinct in A. cleora, but that character is not visible in this photo. I'm fairly certain that the emargination would be rather broad and shallow. There are only five Nearctic species in this subgenus, three of them are marked with orange. mean this is the first live image
for A. aethiops? I read your guide page about A. cleora, and we do have muddy soil, is this what you refer to as heavy? It is to me, but after 35 years of Florida sandy soil, everything else is heavy. :) Also, she was feeding on a flower as evidenced by all the pollen.

Thank you so much Nick for the detailed analysis, it really helps! I will move them to that page so others may benefit from your information and have a live representation.


The flower is also significant...
as A. cleora RARELY visits flowers. Soil type is also significant. A. cleora is almost completely restricted to very sandy soil and A. aethiops is not.
Two of the problems with spider wasps as photo subjects for the guide is 1) they have the outward appearance of a normal wasp but are more like one that has had way too much caffeine (or maybe an illegal stimulant:) and 2) they are very difficult to identify from photos, as usually the characters used to separate them are only clearly visible under a scope or are obscured from different angles. I think the best thing to do (if possible-see "1") is to take several shots at different angles, then maybe we wouldn't have the crappy stills of my pinned wasps! Hopefully we can start to replace those:-)

Moved from Spider Wasps.

Just noticed Edward said to leave them in ID request. :)

looks like an Anoplius, perhaps in the subgroup Lophopompilus, if you leave it in the ID request Mr. Fensler might happen upon it and be able to tell you much more than i. i will make a guess and say perhaps A. aethiops... maybe A. cleora.

Spider Wasp, eh?
Oh well, I guess I'd better give up trying to ID these things! LOL

I agree about Anoplius, and after reading some of the comments it will probably be impossible to ID it to a species.

Thanks Edward

i would not say impossible, at least not always... if it turns out that i am right and it is an Anoplius and in the subgenus Lophopompilus, there are not very many wasps to pick from, but that means i have to be right... and that does not happen too often.

Hi - I have noticed a female every year hunting in the exact same area, and it makes me wonder if I am seeing the same one or if the lifespan is only a year like other wasps - Any help would be appreciated. I have come to grow fond of this young lady...
Thank you

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