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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Large flying insect never seen here before


Hi Jack:
We live in the North San Diego county city of Vista.
We've been in our home here since the early 70s.
This later afternoon an insect flew by our sliding glass door that leads out onto a deck. Beyond that is a pool.
We've had many interesting visitors over the years but we've never seen today's visitor.
Its black body was the length and 3/4 the width of my little finger, roughly 2.75".
When it flew it had red lace wings. I think 4 of them. It seemed to be scouting out under our deck. It also landed on the concrete patio around the pool. When it landed its wings folded together in an upright position.
When it flew, I noticed its abdomen tilted down a looked like it had a stinger.
It was beautiful with its red (more magenta than orangish) wings. It could run rapidly on the ground.
It is some type of wasp, I think, but I've never seen one that big.
I wish I had a picture. It moved too quickly for my phone camera to capture an image.
Any idea what it is? Any info you can share on it will be appreciated. Thank you.


This sounds more like a dragonfly than a wasp. Wasps do not generally fold their wings the way to describe. Dragonflies also display the "scouting" behavior you describe. You might google dragonfly images and see if that's what you saw. There are also some large wasps in your area (Pompilidae) so you could google that name as well.

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.


20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.


Ph.D. in Entomology

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