Entomology (Study of Bugs)/wasp identification



Dear Eric,
Thank you for your blog, I enjoy it.  

I find these wasps in my garden in central Wyoming.  They are present throughout the summer. These photos were taken in July and August.  There are always about 7 or so of them.  They fly very fast, and I identify them in flight as a white blur.  They are also the most shy of the wasps I have tried to photograph.  Sometimes I think they are in the Family Vespidae, other times I am not sure.   

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Hi, Sheila:

Wow, those are really nice images, thank you for sharing.

You are correct, they are members of the Vespidae family.  Specifically, they are mason wasps in the subfamily Eumeninae.  They are solitary, each female constructing her own nest, usually in a pre-existing cavity but sometimes making a free-standing mud nest, or tunneling into the soil.  This is a diverse group and their nesting habits vary accordingly.

The females paralyze caterpillars as food for their offspring.  Both genders feed on nectar, aphid honeydew, and other carbohydrates.

Males have hooked antennae, and the one on the flower is definitely a male.  I think the other one is a female.

Feel free to e-mail me if you wish and give me permission to share the images with experts who specialize on mason wasps.  We might at least get a genus ID out of that effort.



Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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