Prionyx kirbii

Digger Wasps

  • wasp-habitat  Habitat:  Wide variety of habitats
  • wasp-range  Range:  Worldwide
  • wasp-size  Size:  4 - 48mm (5/32 - 2 inch)
  • wasp-species  Species:  8,000
  • wasp-family  Family:  Sphecidae

Digger wasps as their name suggests, tend to do a lot of digging. They do not have hives but live on their own and build their own nests by digging underground or in rotten wood or in some other suitable material.

The Digger wasp is a solitary wasp that builds its nests in stems of plants, in soil and in rotten wood. They have various names which include Solitary hunting wasps, Sand wasps and Mud dauber wasps. They are hairless in appearance and usually brightly colored. Some like the Edith magnifica and Cerceris arenaria are black and yellow like the Common wasp. Although similar in appearance the main difference between the two is that the Common wasp has its wings folded against the side of its body and the Digger wasp have their wings flat on top of their body. Other species like the Chlorion lobatum from South East Asia and the Amplulex from tropical parts of the world, are brightly colored with a metallic green and blue body and head.

digger-wasp-great-golden Life Cycle
As the name suggests, most dig their burrows in various places but usually in sandy areas. However there are some species of digger wasps that do not dig but instead they use the nests of other wasps. Digger wasps are parasitic and they feed their larvae on paralysed insects. Having created suitable the cells in her nests, the female digger wasp flies out to hunt for suitable prey for her young. Usually this is another insect. When they find prey they attack it with their strong mandibles while stinging it with its poisonous venom. The Digger wasp adopts a fighting pose where it bends its abdomen from underneath it creating a curved shape. The victim is trapped between the mandibles and head on top and the sting of the abdomen below. With the victim stunned, the Digger wasp then flies back to her nests and places the paralysed insect in a cell and then lays an egg. Sometimes the Digger wasp will hunt for more than one prey for her larva to eat and when enough has been place she will seal up the cell and leave it for good. Other digger wasps will leave the cell open and hunt for more victims as the larva develops. In such a cases, the wasp hunts for bigger and bigger prey to feed their ever increasing larva.

Some Digger wasp species are adapt at hunting a particular type of insect. The Edith magnifica from Brazil is specialized in catching butterflies, the Ampulex enters the house of people to hunt for cockroaches and uses its long sensitive antennae to find them. The Chlorion lobatum focuses on catching crickets in the fields. The Sceliphron desitllatorium and that Pison atrum hunt down spiders a bit like the Spider-Hunting wasps. However unlike the Spider-Hunting wasps that attack one large spider for each cell in their burrow, the Digger wasp catches many small spiders which are placed in one cell.

Most nests of the Digger wasp in sandy areas contain only one cell. Those nests that are made in plant stems and wood have a many cells.


The larvae of the Digger wasp is fatter at the lower end of its body and tapers down towards the head. It has large and strong mandibles for a larvae and is white in color.

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What do you think of Digger Wasps?

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    Digger Wasps are interesting. (7 votes)

  • bee-star x 5 = Totally awesome!
  • bee-star x 4 = Cool.
  • bee-star x 3 = Interesting.
  • bee-star x 2 = Pretty boring.
  • bee-star x 1 = Annoying pest.