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Great Golden Digger Wasps

What are Great Golden Digger Wasps?

Great golden digger wasps (Sphex ichneumoneus) are a species of solitary wasp found in North America. They belong to the Sphecidae family, which includes various other species of digger wasps.

Great golden digger wasps are solitary in nature, meaning that each female constructs her own nest rather than living in colonies like social wasps such as yellow jackets or paper wasps. They are known for their remarkable hunting behavior. Females hunt for katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers, which they paralyze with their venomous sting. Once immobilized, they carry the prey back to their nest, where they lay a single egg on the paralyzed insect. The developing wasp larva will then feed on the living prey until it pupates and emerges as an adult.

What do Great Golden Digger Wasps look like?

These wasps are large, typically measuring around 1 to 1.5 inches (25 to 38 millimeters) in length, with a striking golden coloration on their bodies. They are commonly found in open habitats such as fields, meadows, and gardens where they feed on nectar from flowers.

Despite their large size and formidable appearance, great golden digger wasps are not aggressive towards humans and generally only sting if they are handled roughly or feel threatened. They play a beneficial role in controlling populations of pest insects and are considered important pollinators due to their flower-visiting behavior.

What do Great Golden Digger Wasps nests look like?

Great golden digger wasps construct nests in sandy or loose soil, typically in sunny, open areas. Their nests consist of burrows that they excavate using their powerful mandibles. The burrows can vary in depth but are usually several inches (around 10 to 20 centimeters) deep and may extend horizontally as well.

The entrance to the nest is often marked by a small mound of soil or sand, which is the result of the excavation process. This mound helps to stabilize the entrance and may also serve as a visual cue for the wasp to locate its nest.

Inside the burrow, the female wasp creates a series of cells where she will lay her eggs. Each cell contains a single paralyzed prey item, such as a katydid, cricket, or grasshopper, along with an egg. The female then seals the cell with a plug of soil, ensuring that the developing larva will have access to food once it hatches.

How do you prevent Great Golden Digger Wasps from nesting near your home?

Preventing great golden digger wasps from nesting near your home involves making the environment less attractive to them and taking measures to deter them from establishing nests. Here are some strategies you can consider:

  1. Maintain your lawn: Keep your lawn well-maintained by regularly mowing the grass and removing debris. Great golden digger wasps prefer nesting in areas with sandy or loose soil, so minimizing such areas in your yard can discourage them.
  2. Reduce bare ground: Cover bare patches of soil with mulch, gravel, or ground cover plants to make the area less suitable for nesting.
  3. Seal potential nesting sites: Fill in any holes or gaps in the ground where wasps could potentially excavate nests. Use soil or gravel to fill these areas.
  4. Remove attractants: Keep outdoor food sources, such as pet food and fallen fruit, cleaned up to reduce the likelihood of attracting prey insects that the wasps hunt.
  5. Use repellents: Some commercial insect repellents may deter wasps from nesting in certain areas. Follow the instructions carefully when using repellents, and consider using natural alternatives if possible.
  6. Create barriers: Place physical barriers, such as fine mesh screens or netting, over areas where you want to prevent wasps from nesting, such as around eaves or vents.
  7. Professional assistance: If you have a severe wasp infestation or if you’re unsure how to handle the situation safely, consider contacting a pest control professional for assistance. They can provide expert advice and help implement effective control measures.

By implementing these preventative measures, you can reduce the likelihood of great golden digger wasps nesting near your home and minimize potential conflicts with these beneficial insects.

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