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Summer is the Time that Sphex Wasps Appear

‘Heads down’ for the Sphex wasp in your landscape. According to Biological Scientist, Lyle Buss, UF/IFAS Insect Identification laboratory at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, he identified them as a type of sphecid wasp in the genus Sphex. Lyle explains, “There are 5 or 6 species of Sphex in Florida, and color is helpful in distinguishing some species.  Sphex ichneumoneus is a common species in FL, and S. jamaicensis is another largely red species.”  The Sphex genus preys on katydids, which they drag into their underground burrows.

The Sphex wasp is not aggressive and lives underground in burrows where it preys on katydids.
Credit: Jeri Reinholtz

A recent homeowner in Volusia County found some in their juniper shrubs.  Lyle speculates that the junipers provide housing for katydids that they hunt.

Katydids are preyed upon by Sphex wasps.
Credit: Tom Walker UF/IFAS

“These wasps aren’t aggressive towards people unless you grabbed it and it stung in self-defense. They tend to be skittish around people.” Lyle reminds us to be conscious of their nesting burrows and how often people are nearby as to if, you need to capture, rid or relocate them. For more information on Sphex wasps, click on the links below or contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Agent.

Resources:

https://bugguide.net/node/view/414

https://bugguide.net/node/view/56796

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