Beetle Grub Wasp

Triscolia ardens

Triscolia ardens photo © by Mike Plagens

This colorful wasp is exhausted and hot and so came to some damp soil near Mesquite Wash, Maricopa Co., Arizona Aug. 2009. It fearsome coloration is a ruse because it is a harmless male lacking a sting. Identified by bug enthusiast par excellence, Eric Eaton. Eric has a most interesting blog that is well worth a long study.

Scoliidae -- a Wasp Family

Female scoliid wasps hunt in meadows and along riparian areas in search of prey to paralyze. The prey they search are large grubs of scarab beetles hiding underground. Only the females hunt and they do so by digging down through soil to the grub which they likely detect through chemo-reception. The males and females both are frequent visitors at flowers and are conspicuous from mid summer through autumn in the upper Sonoran Desert. The females, with their stinger are not aggressive and do not produce colony nests. Each wasp hunts alone.

There is another very similar species of Scoliidae that has rarely been collected in Arizona: Scolia dubia. Separating them with only a picture is unlikely.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 22 Sept. 2009,
updated 7 April 2022.