Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Genus Podalonia - Cutworm Wasps

red-tailed wasp with prey - Podalonia robusta Sphex sp.? - Podalonia Silverado Wasp for ID - Podalonia - male Sphecid wasp with blue wings - Podalonia - female Sphex pensylvanicus or Prionyx atratus - Podalonia Mating wasps - Podalonia - male - female Sphecidae: Podalonia sp.? - Podalonia 299 - Podalonia - 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 (Apoidea sans Anthophila – Apoid Wasps)
Family Sphecidae (Thread-waisted Wasps)
Subfamily Ammophilinae
Genus Podalonia (Cutworm Wasps)
19 spp. in our area,(1) 66 spp. worldwide(2)
1. P. argentifrons: western US and Canada
2. P. argentipilis: AZ, CA
3. P. caerulea: CA, ID
4. P. clypeata: western US to MN
5. P. communis: western (west of 100°W)
6. P. compacta: CA, OR
7. P. luctuosa: northwestern to northeastern
8. P. meleana: western US
9. P. mexicana: western US and Canada
10. P. mickeli: western US and Canada to MN
11. P. occidentalis: western US
12. P. parallela: CA
13. P. pubescens: AZ-TX
14. P. puncta: KS, CO, OK, TX, NM
15. P. robusta: widespread
16. P. sericea: western US and Canada to ND & SD
17. P. sonorensis: western (west of 100°W)
18. P. valida: western US and Canada to MN
19. P. violaceipennis: eastern US to CO
Similar to Ammophila, but petiole typically shorter (appearing to involve a single segment) and flares upward at a steeper angle at the abdomen; whereas in Ammophila the petiole is proportionately longer (appearing to involve two segments) and tapers more gradually, meeting the abdomen at a more shallow angle. In other words, the abdomen in Podalonia is more robust and appears bent upward at the end of the petiole (as opposed to straight or bent downward in Ammophila)(3):

                       Podalonia                       |                    Ammophila

Key to species in Murray (1940)(4)
North America; Eurasia, Africa
Jun-Sep (P. violaceipennis, MN); Apr-Oct (several spp., MI(5)); Apr-May, Sep (P. violaceipennis, NC(6))
Larva feed on Noctuidae caterpillars (provisioned by adult female).(7)
Life Cycle
Excavate nest after finding prey, reversal of the order for most sphecids. One caterpillar is placed in each cell.(7) P. luctuosa has two flights per year in Michigan. Second brood overwinters in burrows, sometimes with others of the species. Other species have one generation per year.
Print References
Fernald H.T. (1927) The digger wasps of North America of the genus Podalonia (Psammophila). Proc. U.S. Nat'l Mus 71: 1-42 (Full text)
Kurczewski F.E., O'Brien M.F., Spofford M.G. (1992) Nesting behavior of Podalonia robusta (Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). J. Hym. Res. 1: 235-239 (Full text)
Murray W.D. (1940) Podalonia (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) of North and Central America. Entomologica Americana 20: 1-77. (Full text)
O'Neill K.M., Evans H.E. (1999) Observations on the prey and nest clusters of Podalonia valida (Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae). Proc. Ent. Soc. Wash. 101: 312-315 (Full text)
Works Cited
1.Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico
Karl V. Krombein, Paul D. Hurd, Jr., David R. Smith, and B. D. Burks. 1979. Smithsonian Institution Press.
2.Pulawski W.J. (2003-) Catalog of Sphecidae sensu lato (Apoidea excluding Apidae)
3.Sphecid wasps of the world: a generic revision
Richard Mitchell Bohart, Arnold S. Menke. 1976. University of California Press.
4.Podalonia (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) of North and Central America
William Donald Murray. 1940. Entomologica Americana, vol. 20, no. 1-2: pp. 1-84.
5.The Sphecid Wasps of Michigan (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sphecinae), by M.F. O'Brien
6.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
7.A reclassification of the Sphecinae with a revision of the Nearctic species of the tribes Sceliphronini and Sphecini
Bohart RM and Menke AS. 1963. University of California Publications in Entomology 30:91-182.