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What is a Great Black Wasp?


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Answered 2010-12-12 13:16:23

A Great Black Wasp, Sphex pennsylvanicus, also known as Katydid Killer, is a large solitary non-aggressive black wasp of up to 1 1/2 inches in length. One of the solitary digger wasps, it feeds on nectar, sap, and other insects.

Nesting habit:

Digs a burrow, one egg per chamber, into each of which it places a large insect such as a cicada or katydid which provides food for the hatched young.

Novice identification is simple, in that:

  • Wasps fly with their feet trailing below rather than tucked up against their bodies like bees and hornets
  • No other wasps in North America are both this large and an unmarked dark black/blue-black. eg, Cuckoo Wasps are also blue-black, but are very small, and Great Golden Digger Wasps are large, but browner and with markings.

What to do if one has wandered indoors:

  • Turn out the lights in succession (starting at the back of the room andmoving the line of dimness toward the door) encourages it to fly back outside toward the sunlight.
  • Unless physically disturbed, they won't bother you, so don't try to shoo them toward the door. Although they generally ignore people, at that point you may become a target.
  • Flyswatters are unlikely to be sufficient, and just irritate the insect. Once aggravated, they will sting.
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