The Black Wasp is a digger wasp that typically measures between 22 and 28 millimetres in length. Great Black Wasp is a fitting moniker for this insect, nearly entirely black except for an iridescent blue sheen on its wings. They feature long segmented antennae, small waists that are pinched, enormous compound eyes, and powerful mandibles for chewing. Females are slightly larger than males and are equipped with a stinger for immobilising prey. They also have many tiny hairs all over their body, which they use to gather pollen when they visit gardens.
What do they eat?
During their foraging for their young, the adults sip nectar from flowers. Adult females are aggressive predators who capture, paralyse and transport their prey back to the nest for the young. They feed primarily on insects belonging to the Orthoptera family (crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers). Over a week, the Black Wasp’s larvae will slowly consume the victim’s immobilised body.
Where and when can you find them?
Most of the United States, excluding the Pacific Northwest, is home to Great Black Wasps. They frequently patrol blossoming plants in the summer, especially in July and August.
The Black Wasp is a type of digger wasp; hence the females construct their underground nests. The female of this species is a solitary worker who digs a network of tunnels with her mouth and spiky legs approximately a foot underground because she doesn’t have a hive or any sisters to help her. An egg and a paralysed bug are placed in each cell. The larvae will have a nutritious food source as soon as they hatch. Near the end of autumn, they undergo metamorphosis into pupae, which they maintain throughout the colder months of winter. Males leave the nest after they reach sexual maturity to find a mate, and fertile females go on to start new broods.
Relevance to Minnesotans
A female Black Wasp will rid your garden of herbivorous pests and pollinate blooms well into the early fall as she searches for food for herself and her larvae.
Do you feel in any way threatened by them?
As a result of its intimidating appearance and size, many people run away when they spot a huge wasp. Females of this species can deliver a nasty sting, but otherwise, these insects leave humans alone when they leave them alone. Unlike females, males lack a stinger. If you have an allergy to insect stings, you should treat these insects with the same caution you would like any other stinging bug. Take a step back and look in awe.