|Great Black Wasp - Sphex pensylvanica|
Order Hymenoptera - Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies / Family Sphecidae
Live adult female wasp photographed at DuPage County Illinois. Size: 35mm
Insects & Spiders | Bees & Wasps Index | Bees & Wasps Main | Stinging Hymenoptera
This predatory wasp generally preys on katydids (family Tettigoniidae) in genera Microcentrum and Scudderia. A female wasp will dig a burrow and provision it with 1-3 insects, laying a single egg upon each one. When the eggs hatch, the resulting larvae feed on the still-living but paralyzed host. This female wasp is the largest I've ever seen - I've measured it accurately at 35mm (males are smaller). It actually makes a rustling sound when it flies, the wings are so large - reminiscent of the sound a mantis makes when lumbering into the air. Awesome!
I often wonder why this wasp's compound eyes do not present anything but a flat, glossy surface. Many bees in the Hymenoptera family Halictidae, mantids, butterflies, dragonflies and many other arthropods' eyes exhibit "pupils" or other geometric or refractory patterns.
Hymenoptera (Latin for membrane wing) is a vast assemblage of insects second only to Coleoptera (beetles) in the number of described species. Hymenoptera number some 115,000 species vs. 350,000 in Coleoptera. 18,000 of these species call North America north of Mexico home. Hymenopterans inhabit a wide variety of habitats, and show an incredible diversity in size, behavior, structure and color.
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