Blue-Winged Digger Wasp, Scolia dubia
Scoliidae or Scoliid Wasp Family

Medium-sized wasp, about an inch long. Black head, thorax and fore part of the abdomen; reddish brown rear part of abdomen, with two yellow spots near the color boundary. Wings are blue-black and flash brillian blue when the sunlight hits them just right.

May be seen drinking nectar in the late summer as in the pictures. May also be seen flying low over the ground, especially over lawns, in a figure 8 pattern. The Radford University campus lawn is popular with them. The low-flying males are looking for females, while the females are looking for signs of grub infestation. Should she detect a grub, she will dig down to it and sting it with a paralyzing toxin. If she approves of it, she will dig a little cave for it and lay an egg next to it. For unknown reasons she rejects some of the grubs and leaves them to die. The egg will hatch and the little wasp larva will devour the grub alive. The larva then spins a cocoon and enters the pupal stage in which it spends the winter to emerge in the spring. The favorite prey of this wasp are June bugs and the introduced Japanese beetle. Since many gardeners loathe Japanese beetles, they should rejoice to find this wasp patrolling their yard. Althogh the females (but not the males) can sting if provoked, they are pretty mellow and rarely harm people

Native to much of the United States, except the Northwest states, and down into Mexico.

The blue wings, black and red color scheme and two yellow "eyes" make this an easy wasp to identify.


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