Five O’clock Shadow

Today’s post features a Thread-waisted Wasp (Ammophila spp.) that I found in the local prairie meadow. This is a rather peculiar looking wasp, so-named for it’s tiny “waist”, located between it’s abdomen and thorax. The adult wasp feeds on nectar and small insects.

In doing some research on this unique insect, I found that the female digs a short burrow in sand or light soil, enlarges terminal chamber to receive from 1 to 11 immobilized insect prey; an egg is laid. The larva feeds initially on nonessential tissues, and later it eats indiscriminately, killing the host. It then pupates close to the remains of the host. Adult emerges in midsummer or later.

Some species have more than one nest at a time. After placing prey inside the nest, the adult temporarily seals the burrow. The adult wasp remembers the various locations of the nests and returns to each with prey for the larvae.

Here is one of my favorite images of the Thread-waisted Wasp, casting a “Five O’clock Shadow” on some prairie grass. This image is from last year, and was my first of this interesting insect:


Thread-waisted Wasp, Dorsett Hill Prairie (MO) (James A. Braswell)


And here are a couple of recent images of this wasp:


Thread-waisted Wasp


Thread-waisted Wasp

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