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Ammophila thread-waisted wasp

Eastern Washington

Picture of Ammophila thread-waisted wasp
Ammophila thread-waisted wasp

The Ammophila thread-waisted wasp is a long, black and red-orange wasp with a thin waist, or pedicel, connecting its abdomen and thorax, and long hind legs. Its body design resembles a Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter, an adaptation having a practical purpose-- this solitary wasp is a caterpillar hunter, designed to carry loads of caterpillars to feed its offspring. It looks similar to male Podalonia cutworm wasps.

This solitary species of wasp prefers hairless caterpillars to feed its larva. It stings its prey to paralyze it, so the food stays fresh but unable crawl away. The wasp will fly its immobilized prey to a shallow ground nest, lay an egg on it and cover the hole. The wasp may have several nest holes, and remembering their locations, can return to re-open and provision them with more food. Its offspring hatches, consumes its hosts for weeks before gorging and killing them, and pupates underground before emerging in mid to late summer as a lone adult.

Adult wasps feed on flower nectar. The pictured wasp was roughly two inches long and was found feeding on the nectar of rabbitbrush flowers. It ranges throughout the United States and southern Canada, preferring to inhabit open areas.

» Other eastern Washington Wasps

Picture of thread-waisted wasp excavating a nest - ammophila
Ammophila wasp excavating a ground nest
Compare to Podalonia Thread-waisted wasp

Picture of thread-waisted wasp nectaring on horsemint
Thread-waisted wasp nectaring on horsemint

Picture of Thread-Waisted Wasp or Ammophila
Thread-waisted Wasp nectaring on grey rabbitbrush