Scary Big Buzzing Black Wasp!

Scary Bug: Great 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.

Great Golden Killer Wasp
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.

Great Black Wasp 1
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.

Great Black Wasp stinger
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.

dragged to his death
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.

katydid killer
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!

Preparing the death chamber
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?)


  1. Nice set of photos.
    Great Black Wasp is a beautiful insect. I've seen them a few times and left them in peace ;)

  2. I like seeing them much better in your photos than in person.-We get some gigantic wasps that come out of the ground around here-they give me the creeps when I see them but they are impressive.

  3. I just found one and it freaked me out! It was huge, I wouldn't want to get stung by one of them. Pretty colour wings though..

  4. Thank you for posting...I have these in my yard in So. Cal. They are loving native flowers along with the other bees and flies.
    They are very close to where we sit outdoors and they leave us, and our pets, alone.
    Nice to watch.

  5. I had one land on my wet hand today, our Toronto, Ontario, Canada weather has been
    very dry and as I was emptying my rain barrels and washing my hands I allowed one
    of these creatures to get the salt and water from my hand. I felt sorry for it as
    it has been very dry. I have a bird bath in my garden and I suppose it has not discovered this source of water. However, I did not allow it to stay on my hand
    indifinitely as it does look very sinister in spite of its beautiful irridescent wings. I was wondering what this flying creature was as I noticed a few of these
    flying when I was hanging out the laundry a week ago. So glad they stay in the ground and not my attic as I noticed about three of these creatures buzzing around where I thought they could possibly invade my attic by way of a little hole near my eavestrouhs.


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