University of Maryland Extension

Sphecid Wasps

Rose Norseth and Susan Villiere
Sphecid Wasp

Sphecid wasps are a diverse group of solitary wasps that show up in mid to late summer. You will see them around their nests, hunting bugs and taking nectar from flowers. They have been seen in Carroll County on the flowers of Culver’s root and sweet pepperbush and frequently pollinate other later blooming plants. A particular sphecid wasp usually attacks or hunts a specific type of bug.

Most of the various species in this genius or group are relatively slender and about 1 1/2 inches long. The Mud dauber is a good example. It is a beautiful iridescent black wasp that captures small spiders that it takes back to its nest to provide for its offspring.

Sphecids prey on many insects and/or spiders. They paralyze this prey and then drag, carry or fly them back to the nest, to feed to their young.

The cicada killer is the largest member of the sphecid wasp genus. The ones seen in Carroll County were definitely thread-waisted and were very busy feeding on nectar. They are harmless to the plants and if you see one or two feeding they should just ignored as they pose little threat to people, especially if left alone.

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