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Insects and other arthropods

Sphecid wasps

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Tabs group

Description

These insects come in widely varying sizes (10 to 55 mm long), but all have an elongated abdomen attached to the thorax by a characteristic “thread-waisted” long, narrow, petiole-shaped structure. They may be entirely black or brown or dark with white, yellow or red markings. The females’ forelegs often have specialized structures for digging.

The larvae are pale coloured and legless. 

In the past, the Sphecid family included the Crabronidae [lien], a fairly similar-looking group of wasps that now forms a separate family. 

Life cycle

Sphecid wasps are holometabolous insects. Their life cycle is divided into four distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The females are usually solitary in their nests, and hunt for spiders and insects that they paralyze with their venom. They carry the prey into their nests and lay their eggs on them, so that their prey serves as food for the larvae. 

A few species are kleptoparasitic: the females visit the nests of other wasps and lay their eggs on prey already captive there. They abandon their eggs, and do not return to care for the larvae.

Geographic distribution

Almost everywhere in North America.

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