Scarab hunter wasp
Scarab hunter wasps look somewhat like yellowjackets with their yellow and black stripes, but are larger, fatter, and have a black head. Scoliids also have a distinct ecological difference from the vespids- they seek out scarab beetle larvae, an agricultural pest, to reproduce. The scarab hunter or scoliid wasp burrows through soil or wood debris, finding, stinging and paralyzing the beetle larva and laying an egg on the temporarily immobilized host. The wasp egg hatches and the young wasp larva eats its host, dining on the beetle larva for some time before gobbling it up in the end. After having its fill of beetle and with space to stretch, it pupates underground.
The wasps in these pictures were observed emerging as adults from burrows in a sandy bank beneath a hackberry tree, the roots of which had likely been attacked by grubs of the lined june beetle. They also emerge from areas with bunchgrass and antelope bitterbrush.
While their larvae feed on beetle larvae, adult scarab hunter wasps forage for flower nectar, in the process pollinating many flowers including white forget-me-not, purple sage, yarrow, chokecherry, elderberry, western clematis and other native plants.
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