Wasp or Hornet or Something Else?
June 16, 2020 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Can someone help identify what this bug is? It's the second time I've found one in my converted attic, and need to figure out how urgent it is to track down the nest.

Pic 1 Pic 2

posted by hwyengr to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
I hesitate to say this because it's a weird picture, but it looks like a cricket to me. (it is so very hard to get a good picture of a live bug!)
posted by pilot pirx at 10:00 AM on June 16, 2020

Should have added more description of it. The entire color is black/that iridescence you see on flies. There might be more coloration under the wings, but I can't see it.
posted by hwyengr at 10:04 AM on June 16, 2020

It looks like a flying ant to me.

posted by niteHawk at 10:14 AM on June 16, 2020

It'll be some kind of wasp, but not the usual yellowjacket kind. The resemblance to a flying ant is because both kinds of insect belong to the Hymenoptera order. There are lots of wasp species that look quite ant-like.

Most wasp species are solitary - i.e. they don't build the large group nests that you get with pest wasps. If you've found two, I wouldn't worry at all. Solitary wasps are beautiful creatures, and usually pose no danger to humans or their property.
posted by pipeski at 10:31 AM on June 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

It’s not an ant, you can clearly see the lack of elbow in the antennae. It’s a wasp that looks like a cricket due to its large back legs.

This wasp is your friend, it uses those powerful legs to oviposit its eggs into insects, often cockroaches, (which are then paralyzed and stuffed into a hole and eaten by the wasp larvae). It is indeed solitary and does not form large colonies and is generally non aggressive, unless you are a prey species, in which case it is your worst nightmare.

See here for more info on ensign wasps, I think that’s your buddy. Even if that’s not the right genus, it is most likely a harmless/beneficial solitary parasitoid wasp.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:42 AM on June 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Not being as worried about needing to show it to an exterminator, I have released the wasp from its prison between the glass and the screen to the outside world to eat all the insects it wants.
posted by hwyengr at 10:46 AM on June 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

I realize now it’s bigger than I thought. Sphex species might be a better candidate if it’s a solid inch long. Very pretty, but a little startling due to size. Also no threat, solitary parasitoids.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:53 AM on June 16, 2020

I think that's it, too. I tried to get a ruler in the picture for scale, but it is pretty close to an inch and that coloration is spot on. I'll take the Sphex over the Ensign, I was getting worried that I needed to keep an eye out for roaches.
posted by hwyengr at 10:55 AM on June 16, 2020

Could it be a winged termite?
posted by QueenHawkeye at 11:15 AM on June 16, 2020

I am unable to give a Latin name for this wasp, but in my experience (as someone who loves wasps of all sorts and who has been observing them for 40 plus years) I feel entirely confident saying that wasps that look like this are solitary wasps, most of whom hunt spiders as their main food source. Their movements are usually much quicker than an ordinary wasp would be. They move more like a fly than a regular wasp. There is usually a lot of antennae waving going on and quick darting motions. When hunting, they tend to walk around rather than fly. They are indeed harmless, except to spiders, and would not be building a nest of multiple individuals.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:30 PM on June 16, 2020

Ok, on preview I agree with Saltysalticid, and would change the "spiders' part of my answer to "insects."
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:33 PM on June 16, 2020

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