What is this bug? Should I be afraid (very very afraid?)
August 20, 2014 3:14 PM   Subscribe

I hate bugs, and I have one that is in my space. Can the generous and awesome amateur (or professional) entomologists of MetaFilter help me identify it, and perhaps give me a general sense of how dangerous it might or might not be?

It's a really bad idea for me to start wandering around Google Images trying to figure out what this bug is, because I may never sleep again if I do something stupid like that (and I wouldn't understand what I was looking at anyway.) However, I think it might be a wasp, and if it is then I need to tell my landlord. If it isn't, then perhaps I don't. I don't know. I hate bugs. I will love you if you tell me what this one is, and let me know the degree to which I should be flipping out here.

Also, if it is a wasp, can you please tell me why I can't see a sting(er)? I hate bugs, but I wouldn't mind having enough knowledge to be all like "that is totally a wasp and I don't have to ask MetaFilter to be sure" in the future.

For the interested: there's only one that I've seen so far, but last time there was one wasp - per my sister, who isn't scared of bugs but is unavailable at present - it turned into a nest thing that was installed in the track of my sliding glass door and kept me off my patio for like a week as it grew, and there were like ten wasps before the guy showed up to spray it down. I also couldn't make eye contact with the entire outdoors for about three weeks I hate bugs.

I have promised my sister that I won't do any more Googling of skin conditions, bugs, or other horrible things, because me flipping out and suffering insomnia bothers her. So she'll love you, too.
posted by SMPA to Science & Nature (13 answers total)
[Set your photo library, or at least this individual photo, to publicly viewable if you want us to speculate!]
posted by tapir-whorf at 3:16 PM on August 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

Link is set to private!
posted by c'mon sea legs at 3:35 PM on August 20, 2014

Response by poster: Hmm. It says it's public to me. Let's try a brand-new album and see if it works?
posted by SMPA at 3:43 PM on August 20, 2014

It's a wasp, yes, but when you say it's "in your space," it looks like your definition of your space is the Great Outdoors. There will be wasps outside. Always. Sometimes they will be near you. That's just kind of how nature works.

You can tell your landlord, but their nest may be houses away. What you really need to do is adapt the strategy of "it won't hurt me if I don't bother it."
posted by mudpuppie at 3:45 PM on August 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, its a Cicada wasp. They are as harmless a bug as you are likely to find.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:48 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That is excellent news, thank you primalux and Pogo!

mudpuppie: I have fairly explicit instructions from my landlord to call as soon as I see anything; they own every apartment within effective walking distance of me. I can't remember if it's actually in my lease, but they send out notices all the time.
posted by SMPA at 3:56 PM on August 20, 2014

That doesn't look like a cicada killer. It's your garden-variety wasp, which also won't bother you unless you mess with it or its nest.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:11 PM on August 20, 2014

Wasps will eat other bugs, thus reducing the overall number of bugs in your space.
posted by amtho at 4:29 PM on August 20, 2014

It actually looks like some variety of hornet to me, not a wasp.
posted by Gneisskate at 4:46 PM on August 20, 2014

I agree that it's definitely not a cicada killer. Looks completely different; the structure of the body is different, the wings are different. I'm not an expert as to the differences between hornets and wasps, but to me it looks like either a black wasp or a blue hornet. Because the black wasp's wings are iridescent and can look blue, they may be mistaken for each other? Not sure. Anyway, black wasps are not aggressive and shouldn't be an issue. They like stinging and eating bugs, not people.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:56 PM on August 20, 2014

By the way, the reason you can't see its stinger is because either it's a male with a tiny pseudo-stinger, or a female with a retractable stinger.
posted by Specklet at 4:57 PM on August 20, 2014

PS I don't like bugs either and would definitely steer clear of this one, but not kill it. Since it is going to be eating other bugs I don't like.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:57 PM on August 20, 2014

This looks like one of the mud dauber wasps. They are not bad to have around, they are not the kind of wasps that go "1,2,3, attack" and they don't come around to share your artisanal goat cheese. Solitary other-insect-eating wasps, a much better deal than your typical hornet.
posted by jet_silver at 8:53 PM on August 20, 2014

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