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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/stinging insect/Pennsylvania woods

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Question
While hiking an edge of a 2-yr old clearcut in Potter Co, PA on July 6, 2013; was stung in the leg by something I did not see.  Looking down could not identify any ground nest.  Person behind me (because I didn't see anything) continued and also got stung.  Looking a little more carefully, saw what appeared to be 2 all black "vespids" hovering within inches of ground.  Immediately, an all black insect (roughly 3/4" in length w/ large black wings) landed on my arm and stung.  This insect is extremely fast, as I could only make out color and rough outline.  I've been in these woods for over 30 years and have never encountered these bugs.  I've also been stung by several types of insects over the years, but none quite as painful (or invisible).  Would love to know more

Answer
Marc,

The term vespid refers to social wasps in the family Vespidae such as yellowjackets. Not all stinging wasps are vespids. In fact most wasps are not in this family and many of these can and do sting. The vespids have large nests that are aggressively defended by workers so are most often the ones that people have bad encounters with (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/yellowjacket_wasps.html). If you can get a picture I may be able to narrow down what you encountered. There are some all black vespids but there are many non-vespids that are all black as well, such as this one http://bugguide.net/node/view/164193. Sorry I can't be more specific without a picture.

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

Publications
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology

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