A Selection of
Wasps, Bees and Ants from
Arizona's Sycamore Canyons

Arguably, the Hymenoptera, the order that comprises the wasps, bees, and ants, is the most important order in the ecology of the Sycamore Woodland ecosystem. The majority of the flowering plants rely on the bees for pollination services. Ants are ubiquitous on every plant and every square meter of soil. Wasps, most of which are too small to be noticed by the casual observer, keep many of the plant-feeding insect populations in check through parasitism.

Hymenoptera have two pairs of membraneous wings in the adult stage except in wingles ants. There are always four life stages with complete metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa and adult. In other words small wasps or bees do not grow into bigger ones.

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Formica ant

Wood Ant

Ubiquitous ants in woodlands and shrublands foraging on trees and foliage. Sprays formic acid in defense. More ...

Glorious Mining Bee

Glorious Bee

Much bigger than most bees. Rusty red hairs cover thorax. Mountain foothills along Mexico border. More ...

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Golden brown bee with black abdominal bands. Rather large and slow compared to most bees. Overly common. More ...

digger bee, Centris

Digger Bee

A little larger than a honey bee. Nest tunnel in soil. More ...

Long-horned Bee

Long-horned Bee

Named for their conspicuous long antennae. There are many kinds of similar Melissodes bees. More ...

Scoliid Flower Wasp

Flower Wasp

Many wasp species have various versions of this yellow and black pattern. More ...

Myzinum Wasp

Myzinum Wasp

Males are long and slender with bold yellow and black bands. False stinger at abdomen tip. More ...

Western Yellow-jacket

Western Yellowjacket

Sharply marked yellow and black hornet that comes to open food or sugary drinks. Yellow ring around eye. More ...

Golden Paper Wasp

Golden Paper Wasp

Brick red thorax and gold yellow abdomen. Unless you disturb their nest these likely won't sting. More ...

Comanche Paper Wasp

Comanche Paper Wasp

Yellow abdomen attached by very narrow 'waste'. Thorax and wings coffee-brown. Comes to flowers and builds paper nests. More ...

Velvet Ant Wasp

Velvet Ant (male)

Males are winged, but females wing­less. Contrasting red and black wasp. Visits flowers or other nectar source. More ...

Which Way Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

This wingless female wasp crawls rapidly moving forward and backward but the fake head eye spots confuses. More ...

oak apple gall Cynipidae

Saucer Gall Wasp

Many varieties of galls on new growth of scrub oak each the result of a different species of cynipid wasp. More ...

leaf gall on emory oak

Acorn Cup Gall

A minute wasp caused this plant growth on an oak acorn cup is the size of a pinhead. More ...

oak apple gall Cynipidae

Oak Apple Gall

The wasps that were in this gall have emerged through the pin hole, i.e. they are very small! More ...

stem gall on Quercus emoryi

Oak Stem Gall

This gall is located on a twig. It formed when the twig was just new. On Emory Oak. More ...

leaf gall on Rosa woodsii

Rose Pea Gall

This gall is located on a compound leaf of the Wood Rose bush and is caused by a wasp. More ...


Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons


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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 16 October 2014
updated 21 Feb. 2017