Name that Central Texas wasp
January 6, 2008 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Central Texas wasp ID? Small, gray, found indoors hovering around lights?

I am having a hard time identifying what kind of waspish insect I am seeing in my house in Austin, Texas. I've lived in Austin my entire life, but I've never seen any wasp of this type.

Every few days to few weeks I will see a single gray wasp-type insect about 3/4 to 1 inch long. Usually it is in the bathroom around the light fixture. It is not aggressive as far as I can tell. My roommate spraying it with wasp killer a few times usually does the trick.

I am terrified of wasps after being stung in the eyelid when I was little, even of wasp-looking things that dont sting, so I really would prefer these weren't in the house.

When we first moved in in August, there were some abandoned mud dauber-type nests on the doors and all around the porch that we got rid of, but no signs of the bugs themselves.

Any clue what we've got here? I've googled and googled and looked at field guides online, and the closest I can think of is the cicada killer, but my wasps seem too small to be those or typical mud daubers.
posted by fructose to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Best answer: Any way we can get a picture of the offender?
You sure it's definitely a wasp and not some sort of carpenter ant?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2008

What's that Bug is a good resource... closest thing you'll get to an actual entomologist on such short notice. Here's their page on cicada killers and wasps and hornets.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:45 AM on January 6, 2008

Is it just gray or does it have other colors?

also: stinging in the eyelid: OUCH!
posted by Pants! at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2008

I wonder if what you have is a hoverfly. They are evolved to look like bees and wasps, but they aren't.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:04 PM on January 6, 2008

Seconding Steven C Den B's question.
Does it, you know. *proper* hover?
Like staying in one place?

'cause wasps [sweeping generalization follows] don't do that.

When they are dead, are you comfortable looking at them up close?
Do they have a 'pinch' at the waist [wasp]? Or do they have kind of a beefy delta-shaped abdomen [syrphid]?
posted by Acari at 12:36 PM on January 6, 2008

more actually of interest is:
how many wings do they have?

look closely [or have someone else look closely if you're skeeved out].
This is sometimes harder to count than it should be due to the fragility and transparency of the wings, but there's a start, anwyay.
posted by Acari at 12:39 PM on January 6, 2008

I don't have an answer, but we get these in the house on a weekly basis all summer long. I'm also in Austin.
posted by Addlepated at 1:21 PM on January 6, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great help!

Right now I'm thinking it could actually be a carpenter ant drone because we have noticed carpenter-looking ants randomly throughout the house lately and it does look somewhat like the pic.

I'll try to get a pic when I get home.

To answer some questions:
1) Just gray or maybe a dull black from what I can tell
2) It doesn't look like a hoverfly judging from the pics because it is solid-colored with no yellow.
3)I'll try to see if I can get my roommate to count the wings.
4)It's hard to tell about the waist because the wings obscure it, but I'll try to see when I get home.

I'm starting to miss free pest control in my previous rentals already...
posted by fructose at 1:48 PM on January 6, 2008

Name that Central Texas wasp

Well, of course, his name is Bubba.

My roommate spraying it with wasp killer a few times usually does the trick.

Which trick is that?

Seriously, since you are terrified of wasps and similar insects, don't hesitate to ask his name, don't do tricks. Just kill him. If you're really concerned, take a photo and take it to the UT Entomology Department, and they'll tell you who it is. But you probably don't need to worried about him being an endangered species, just get rid of the dern thing.

Grew up in San Antonio, kill waspy insects first, ask questions later.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:27 PM on January 6, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks again, all!

99% sure we've got carpenter ants on our hands. Flying ants, eghhhh. Never would have thought of that one (didn't know the bastards got that big).
posted by fructose at 7:23 PM on January 6, 2008

Yeah, unfortunately the further south you live, the more things that shouldn't fly, do.

Cockroaches, for instance.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:55 PM on January 9, 2008

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