Scary Big Buzzing Black Wasp!
I'm not usually one to photograph bugs, but this big, black, buzzing, evil looking wasp merited an exception. How big? Over an inch long. The scariest buzzing you could imagine, too. This monster is called a Great Black Wasp Sphex pensylvanicus. It is a relative of the Great Golden Digger Wasp I photographed last year.
Sphex ichneumoneus . View large size to see the golden hairs on her head and thorax. This wasp is not aggressive towards humans, and is actually beneficial for gardeners. It's sting is said to cause very little pain (I didn't test this out myself), but the venom is very effective at paralyzing grasshoppers and katydids. What I first thought was a leaf on the ground is actually a paralyzed katydid that was dragged to the hole.
This wasp looked frightening but it was also beautiful, with sheer iridescent violet-blue wings that shone in the sunlight. Like the Great Golden Digger Wasp, these wasps dig holes in the ground to lay their young.
Despite the scary looking stinger, this solitary wasp is not aggressive and will only sting you if you threaten it. If you get stung, though, it will hurt a lot! The real purpose of the stinger is to paralyze their prey in order to provide food for their young.
The Great Golden Digger Wasp goes down to prepare a chamber to contain her victim, The Insect is completely paralyzed by her venom, and unable to move his limbs at all, never mind escape.
The Great Black Wasp is a creature worthy of starring in a horror movie. It's victims are paralyzed and eaten alive from the inside out. Lucky for us we're too big to fit in their burrows!
The Great Golden Digger Wasp is pulling the paralyzed insect down the hole. She will seal the Katydid in a chamber off of the tunnel, where it will live for days as it''s body serves as an incubator for the egg. After the egg hatches, the Katydid will be eaten alive by the larvae. (Did you ever see the movie Alien?)