great golden digger wasp

(Sphex ichneumoneus)

Conservation Status
great golden digger wasp
Photo by Mike Poeppe
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

not listed

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Great golden digger wasp is a widespread, fairly common, large, thread-waisted wasp. It occurs across the United States, in adjacent Canadian provinces, in Central America, and in South America. In Minnesota it is common in the southeast and metro areas, absent in the north. Although common, it is wary and seldom seen.

Females are slender and to 11 16 (23 to 27 mm) long. The head is black and is covered with abundant erect golden hairs. There are two large compound eyes, one on each side of the head; and three small simple eyes (ocelli) in a triangular pattern at the top of the head between the compound eyes. The face and the area behind each compound eye (postocular area) have appressed golden hairs. The antennae are thread-like, are not elbowed, and are black except for the underside of the basal segment, which is reddish-orange. The mandibles are reddish-orange at the base, black at the tip.

The thorax (mesosoma) is black and has three segments. However, the first segment of the abdomen is fused to the thorax, giving the thorax the appearance of having four segments. The upper plate on the first segment (pronotum) is short and collar-like. There is a short, rounded lobe on each side of the pronotum that does not reach the plate at the base of the wings (tegula). The lobes and the ridge on the pronotum are covered with appressed golden hairs. The tegula is reddish-orange and is also covered with appressed golden hairs. The second segment of the thorax (scutum), by far the largest, is black with pale rear and lateral margins.

The abdomen consists of a large first segment (propodeum) that is fused to the thorax; a narrow waist-like second segment (petiole); and the bulbous remainder (gaster). The first two segments of the gaster and the base of the third segment are reddish-orange. The remainder of the gaster is black.

The wings are large and amber. When at rest they are folded over the body. They make a rustling noise in flight. In the lower part of the forewing there are two recurrent (backward-turning) veins, both of which meet the second submarginal cell. On the hindwing the discoidal vein rises distinctly beyond the end of the transverse median vein.

On each leg, the basal segment (coxa) is reddish-orange. The small second segment (trochanter) may be black, a little reddish-orange, or entirely reddish-orange. The second segment (tibia), third segment (femur), and the end section corresponding to the foot (tarsus) are reddish-orange.

Males are smaller than females, averaging ¾ (19 mm) long, and have less abundant golden hairs. The trochanter and the base of the femur are black.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Male: ¾ (19 mm)

Female: to 11 16 (23 to 27 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Fields, meadows, and gardens near a sandy area

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

One generation per year: June to October

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Adults are wary, not aggressive, but they may sting if handled.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Larva Food

 
 

Paralyzed grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar and plant sap

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 27, 29, 30, 82.

 
  7/12/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Widespread and fairly common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)  
 

Suborder

Apocrita (narrow-waisted wasps, ants, and bees)  
 

Infraorder

Aculeata (ants, bees and stinging wasps)  
 

Superfamily

Apoidea (bees and apoid wasps)  
 

Family

Sphecidae (thread-waisted wasps)  
 

Subfamily

Sphecinae  
  Tribe Sphecini  
 

Genus

Sphex  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Ammobia auriflua

Ammobia ichneumonea

Apis ichneumonea

Chlorion ichneumoneum

Chlorion ichneumoneum aurifluum

Nomada surinamensis

Proterosphex ichneumoneus

Sceliphron aurifluus

Sphex aurifluus

Sphex aurocapillus

Sphex croesus

Sphex dimidiatus

Sphex ichneumoneus aurifluus

Sphex ichneumoneus ignotus

Sphex ichneumoneus sumptuosus

Sphex sumptuosus

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

great golden digger wasp

great golden sand digger

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Femur

On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.

 

Gaster

The bulbous part of the abdomen of ants, bees, and wasps. In ants it usually begins at segment three.

 

Mesosoma

In Hymenoptera: the front part of the body, consisting of all three segments of the thorax and the first segment of the abdomen, to which the wings are attached.

 

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

 

Pronotum

The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.

 

Scape

On plants: An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster. On insects: The basal segment of the antenna.

 

Tarsus

The last two to five subdivisions of an insect’s leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. Plural: tarsi.

 

Tegula

A small, hardened, plate, scale, or flap-like structure that overlaps the base of the forewing of insects in the orders Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, and Homoptera. Plural: tegulae.

 

Tibia

The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Mike Poeppe

 
    great golden digger wasp   great golden digger wasp  
           
    great golden digger wasp   great golden digger wasp  
 

Kristyne Holbrook

 
 

Found in Bridgton, Maine

 
    great golden digger wasp   great golden digger wasp  
 

Norm & Peg Dibble

 
 

On 08/3/2019 there were several types of bees or wasps on our large bush of Swamp Milkweed.

This black and orange wasp was unfamiliar to me. I usually just see common looking small bees and large black wasps and ants on this bush.

  great golden digger wasp  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

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Other Videos
 
  Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphecidae: Sphex ichneumoneus) Grooming
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 13, 2009

Photographed at the Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (13 September 2009). Go here to learn more about this species: http://bugguide.net/node/view/414

 
  Great Golden Digger Wasp - Sphex ichneumoneus
adamitshelanu
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 29, 2014

Great Golden Digger Wasp - Sphex ichneumoneus

Uncle Steve follows this pretty common black and orange, large wasp on US Hwy 64 at Ramseur, Randolph County, North Carolina:

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Sphex ichneumoneus

Date: 15 JULY 2014

[vado-g3 sansa avidemux audacity]

 
  Sphex ichneumoneus
getyourbugon
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 11, 2012

Sphex ichneumoneus | Great Golden Digger Wasp

 
  Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphecidae: Sphex ichneumoneus) Female
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 27, 2011

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (27 August 2011).

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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Report a sighting of this insect.

 
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  Mike Poeppe
7/11/2021

Location: Houston County, MN

great golden digger wasp  
  Mike Poeppe
7/1/2021

Location: Houston County, MN

great golden digger wasp  
  Kristyne Holbrook
7/1/2021

Location: Maple Grove, MN

Found in Bridgton, Maine

great golden digger wasp  
  Norm & Peg Dibble
8/3/2019

Location: Maple Grove, MN

On 08/3/2019 there were several types of bees or wasps on our large bush of Swamp Milkweed. This black and orange wasp was unfamiliar to me. I usually just see common looking small bees and large black wasps and ants on this bush.

great golden digger wasp  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Created: 8/25/2019

Last Updated:

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