Spider Wasp
(Common Name)
(General Category)
Hymenoptera: Pompilidae
(Taxonomic Classification)
Many species
(Scientific Name)

Spider wasp adult with rollover ID charactersSpider wasp with spider

Description: These are usually large dark-colored wasps, often with dark, oily-looking wings. They are often seen feeding on flower nectar, as well as searching on the ground outdoors, as well as structures such as barns and sheds for spiders. Once they locate a spider, they will paralyze it then either transport it to a previously dug underground nest to lay an egg on it, or lay an egg inside the spiders burrow. You can sometimes observe these wasps dragging paralyzed spiders long distances on the ground. These wasps are solitary, that is a single female will construct and provision a nest.

Identification:  Rollover pictures with mouse for tips on how to identify these parasitoids. Adults: Long, often spiny hind legs. Usually very dark body and wings. The wings are not folded up accordion-style at rest as they are in paper wasps. They also often nervously flick their wings, and are very active in searching for spiders and nectar. The middle plate on the side of thorax is divided in two. Larvae: Because the grub-like larvae develop by feeding on paralyzed spiders in underground nests, they cannot be seen unless a nest is purposely dug up.

Value in Pest Management:  Spider wasps contribute to natural control of spider populations. However, because they parasitize spiders, that themselves are considered beneficial arthropods, spider wasps may affect pest management.   They are not sold commercially.

Origin and Distribution:  Native, throughout North America (http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Pompilidae).

For More Information:  (LINKS)