Cedar Creek
Ecosystem Science Reserve


Insects of Cedar Creek

Order HYMENOPTERA

Family SPHECIDAE

(Digger Wasps)

(Pictorial Key to Subfamilies)

(Table of Species)

This large family (1139 NA spp) of Provisioning Wasps is encountered with regularity but not abundance at Cedar Creek. Most construct burrows in the ground and provision the larval chambers with paralyzed insects collected afield and brought to the burrow. Perhaps 75 species have been collected. Many species IDs are tentative. Prey selection is quite specific, and this family exhibits an interesting range of nesting behavior. This group will be discussed by subfamily.

SPHECINAE
The Thread-Waisted wasps have long petiolate abdomens and two spurs on their middle tibiae.  Three Tribes are recognized.

The Sceliphronini include Sceliphron caementarium (yellow and black) and Chalybion californicum (metallic blue). They construct mud nests and provision with spiders. They are confined to habitations at CCESR. Also included in this Tribe are Chlorion aerarium and Podium spThesespecies construct burrows in the sand and provision with Gryllids.

The Sphecini include species of Sphex(ichneumoneus, pennsylvanicus) that provision with Tettigoniids and species of Prionyx(atrata, thomae) that provision with Acridids. Also included in this Tribe arePalmodes dimidiata andIsodontia mexicana. These species provision with Gryllids. They occur in xeric fields and savanna areas.

The Ammophilini include slender less robust species often found at flowers.  Podalonia violaceipennis is commonly taken at Solidago blooms as are several species of Ammophila (aberti, urnarius, kennedyi, leoparda, procera ++). Members of these two genera have ground burrows and provision with caterpillars. Eremnophila aureonota is quite rare at CCESR.

PEMPHREDONINAE
The members of this subfamily are small, black, with petiolate abdomens. Two Tribes are recognized.

The Psenini (antennae inserted mid face) provision with hoppers (Cercopidae, Membracidae, Cicadellidae). At least two species have been collected. Mimesa BK and the more common Mimumesa (RD + BK).

The Pemphredonini (antennae inserted low on face) provision chiefly with aphids. Pemphredon sp. has been taken from savanna areas and a few specimens of Stigmus sp and Passaloecus sp also collected. Some undetermined material remains.

ASTATINAE
A single specimen of Astata unicolor(prey-pentatomid nymphs) has been collected.

LARRINAE
The members of this large subfamily (230 NA spp) are robust, spiny-legged, black (and orange) species frequently with deformed ocelli that generally provision with Orthoptera. Four Tribes are recognized.

The Larrini (with deformed ocelli) are most commonly encountered.  The two most common genera are large, robust Tachytes spp (aurulenta, sp.) and small Tachysphex spp (acutus, quebecensis, tarsatus, similis, punctifrons, krombeinellus, exectus).

The Miscophini have normal ocelli, but distinctive Larrinae venation.  A few specimens of Plenoculus davisi (prey-mirids), Larropsis conferta andMiscophus americanus have been collected.

The Trypoxylonini include your slender black Organ Pipe mud daubers that provision with spiders.  Several specimens of. Trypoxylon spp have been collected.

The Bothynostethini includes the single species Bothynostethus distinctus. (possibly collected).

CRABRONINAE
The Square-Headed Wasps (120 NA spp) may be recognized by their heads and their single submarginal cell.Two Tribes are recognized.

The Oxybelini are small species with projecting scales on the scutellum.  Numerous specimens of Oxybelus spp collected.

Most Crabronini nest in the ground and provision their nests with flies carried impaled on the sting. Anacrabro ocellata is commonly taken at flowers. Several other species in the genera Crabro(advena, cribellifer, ++), Crossocerus, Ectemnius(decemmaculatus, aciculata, trifasciatus, rufipes, dives, ++), Rhopalum, Enoplolindenius and Lestica have also been collected. Most of these species are twig nesters in woodland.  Some undetermined material remains.

NYSSONINAE
Most Nyssoninae have a single spur on the middle tibiae and the mesoscutum extending over the tegula.  Most Sphecid Kleptoparasites occur in this Subfamily.  Six Tribes are recognized.

The Bembicini have a large triangular labrum that aids in digging. Bembix amoena is common is a few sandy fields where it searches for horseflies (Tabanus spp). Bembix occidentale and Bembix sp are uncommon. Stictiella plana (prey-Diptera) has been collected from savanna, and Bicyrtes (4-fasciatus, ventralis) from flowers. Species of Bicyrtesprovision with pentatomids.

The Mellini are rare. One specimen Mellinus sp has been collected. They provision their nest with flies.

The Alyssonini (16 NA spp) are not well known. At least some nest in the ground and provision with hoppers. A couple of species of Alysson (triangulifera, oppositus) and Didineis texana have been collected, primarily in savanna habitat.

The Nyssonini (50 NA spp) are kleptoparasites of Gorytini and Larrini. A few specimens of Nysson and Zanysson have been collected.

The Gorytini (85 NA spp) all nest in the ground and provision their nests with various Homoptera. Pseudoplisus phaleratus is fairly common as are a few species of Gorytescomplex?  Some undetermined material.

PHILANTHINAE
The Philanthini have notched eyes and a quadrate 2nd submarginal cell in the forewing.  Bee Wolves provision with bees, primarily Halictids. Several species of Philanthus (lepidus, politus, ventilabris, sanborni) have been collected, but in small numbers.  Aphilanthops frigidus(an ant provisioner) has also bee collected.

The Cercerini provision with adult Coleoptera (primarily Curculionidae, Chrysomelidae, Buprestidae). In this group the eyes are entire and the 2nd submarginal cell is triangular petiolate.  Perhaps ten species of Cerceris (clypeata, fumipennis, finitima, compar, irene, nigrascens, flavocincta, atramontensis, robertsoni, ++) have been collected, but in small numbers. Eucerceris flavocincta collected on Pycnanthemum.
 


webmaster@cedarcreek.umn.edu Last updated May, 2000