photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Bev Wigney | all galleries >> Galleries >> Wasp, Hornets & Sawflies > Great Black Wasp -- Sphex pennsylvanicus
previous | next

Great Black Wasp -- Sphex pennsylvanicus

This is an almost unimaginably wonderful organism. With its jet black body and shimmering wings, it is quite a sight to behold. As I studied this creature, it slowly turned its head to regard me with such awareness and intelligence that one felt as though in the presence of a superior being.


other sizes: small medium large original auto
previous | next
comment | share
Bev Wigney12-Jul-2011 12:28
Hi Beth,
Yes, unfortunately, many people are completely irrational in their fear of insects, reptiles and some other creatures. I find some of the stories and comments posted in my insect photo galleries to be so ridiculous that I actually once featured some of them in a blog post about how nutty some people can be when it comes to being afraid of insects. Pretty pathetic. Glad to hear that you enjoy studying the natural world. Regards, Bev
Bev Wigney25-Jul-2010 18:52
Bev Wigney25-Jul-2010 15:43
fred 24-Jul-2010 12:31
What an unfortunate disorder to be able to dislike Sphex, as so many commenters here seem to do!
Guest 24-Jul-2010 02:38
These things are huge!!! I work at hospital in central Wisconsin, and I usually get to take care of the bees and wasps because I am here until after dark. We have a large brick curved retaining wall, and one part of it has a drain pipe sticking out, well right underneath there they found home. It would not have been so bothersome but it was right next to our loading dock where we bring meals in and out for elderly a few times per day. On the first night of observation, I saw one fly under the pipe and dirt was landing on the brick below, almost like when you see a badger digging a hole, pretty neat. Needless to say, the foaming stuff works "okay", and I wouldn't dare try anything less. We had over a dozen flying in and out of the nest until I sprayed it the first night. Still had a couple flying in and out the next night, and there was still one that I missed that was back there tonight. I think I finally got them. One of the lower posts said they fly slow, phhh. When I think slow, I think of like a big bumble bee. For the size of these balck giants, I think they can fly quicker and more direct routes than some of their smaller cousins. Some people were asking how to get rid of them, and my reply is to use a foaming hornet/wasp spray that shoots 20 feet. Course I had to get closer than that, but you're on your own. And definately wait until dark!!! As domicile as some of the other bloggers seem to depict, these are definately day movers.

Notably, none of our truck drivers were stung, but all of them were in awe and aware of the huge black wasps.
Christian 23-Jul-2010 18:49
I live in the Chicago suburbs on the Indiana/Illinois border, Munster to be exact. I saw this same creature going in and out of my mother's cement porch. It would fly away the second I moved toward it and would literally circle above the trees in the neighborhood. You could see it from the ground above the trees flying. That is how big this was. It would hit windows and you would hear it "crack" off of whatever it hit and just continue flying. For 3 weeks I tried spraying it with Raid, which I did, that did nothing, to spraying Armor All on it, to which again, did nothing. Yesterday it flew into the crack on the porch while I was on my phone, and stayed in there for a few seconds, which it never does, so I grabbed the Raid and started spraying into the cracked side of the porch where it was most assuredly building a nest. It came out facing the spray and moved towards me. I sprayed half of the entire can of Raid on it until it died because it would NOT stop moving and trying to fly away. Any other wasp, hornet etc was killed instantly with this spray in the past. This one seemed rather like the spray was weighing its wings down rather than killing it. Again, after about half of the can was on it, it then finally died. I bought a display jar and now have this as a trophy. It is about 1.75" long. The only other unnerving thing is that when I was watching it fly above the trees like a bird, that there was another of the exact same size there with it flying around that I have not seen up close.
Kathy 23-Jul-2010 17:52
Saw one in the Chicago area that looked exactly like this 3 inches long on a flowering bush in the drive-thru of my favorite dunkin donuts. It scared the heck out of me just trying to imagine what on earth it's sting would feel like. I pray there aren't a lot of these bad boys around.
Julie 23-Jul-2010 14:25
Ok, i live outside of Ottawa canada, there building nsts under my porch, they dig a whole bunch of wholes in the sand and multiply quickly, a week ago i had one now there's about 20, i have a 18 month old baby, and i what to now how to kill them. I tried killing a few and i did but they are hard to kill. I used a shovel and knocked it out and slit it in half, but there's too many to kill them all that way. SOMEONE HELP, I don't want my baby to get hurt, the "wasps" are in my front door (porch)
Guest 22-Jul-2010 21:58
I live in Utah, just found one of these flying about in my living room. Ordinarily I would gently guide it outside, however, several years ago I was stung in my sleep by one of these things and the sting site (on my arm) quickly became swollen 8 - 10 inches around and rock hard. It took MONTHS to go away. Worst sting I ever got. I wacked this thing hard with a fly swatter, it didn't even faze it. Wacked it 5-6 more times, flushed it fast. Jeez. Might have been just stunned but I took no chances.
Elaine 18-Jul-2010 23:36
I live in Ontairo and they have built a nest under my deck!!!!!!!!
Sarah 16-Jul-2010 16:18
Whoa just found one of these suckers in my screened in porch in Berea, KY. The noise it made when it slammed into the screen was so loud. Seriously looks like a small hummingbird. How anyone here actually says they caught it alive is insane!!!!
stephane 15-Jul-2010 13:30
I have like 30 to 40 around the pool and deck what to do
Guest 11-Jul-2010 18:39
Live in northern Illinois and have been seeing these giants for about 3 years. For lack of a better name, we've simply been calling them bodashes! In the three years, we've never known them to be aggressive with humans -- occasionally we witness one flying with a grasshopper in their sinister clutches. They seem to live under our concrete porch and splits in the concrete in front of the garage.
Sam 09-Jul-2010 18:28
I live in philadelphia pa and a nest of these huge wasps overflowed into my basement! one noght the basement was empty, the next there were at least 100 of them,most were dead already. i beat a quick retreat as i am allergic to mud wasps, and thats what i thought they were. since then, we have killed at least a hundred more, they seem very attracted to the light bulbs down there, 3 or 4 will be swarming around them at once, and seem to be fighting each other. these things are loud when they fly.
Madison 09-Jul-2010 04:52
i was helping my mom in the garden and i look up and see that huge wasp flying around in the flowers. i was rather close to it, maybe 2 feet or so away. it didnt seem to mind me, and just kept doing what it was doing, and so did i, but making quick glances towards it every minute or so. later my mom called me out and pointed it out saying "what is that?!" i said "i don't knmow! i think its some sort of wasp..." didnt seem to mind us being there at all
Beth 03-Jul-2010 21:29
I have these amazing critters around my house and they've never bothered my kids or animals. They've made a nest in the fascia above our front window (where we enjoy taking our coffee breaks) I watched one make a quick attack on a spider that had gotten too close to what I assume is the opening of the nest. Needless to say the fight lasted only a few seconds then the wasp deposited the body and some legs on the window ledge. It saddens me to read of all the killings of these creatures based off their looks. Any creature will defend itself but these guys are quite content to live peacefully with us here in Ontario.
Bev Wigney02-Jul-2010 11:33
I just photograph insects and know nothing about exterminating them. I would suggest doing a search of pest control sites.
Guest 01-Jul-2010 23:21
Joe,Chicago...I have these wasps nesting under my front porch (concrete stairs)for 3 years. When I call an exterminator and tell them where they are located they never call me back. I've probably killed two dozen of them. Every once in a while I find one in my house. How do I get rid of these things once and for all!
Guest 28-Jun-2010 22:17
Sheri, Canada. A nest of these guys moved into my garden, and I love them! They aren't aggressive at all (especially in comparison to the yellow-jackets we've had previously). Our patio table is right under their nest and they don't care if we're sitting beside them or working around them. And they have saved my grapevine from an infestation of Japanese beetles. They're welcome in my yard any time.
Guest 24-Jun-2010 15:50
I live in southern Wisconsin and i have these everywhere!!! i have never seen them before now i notice them all the time, they are in and outside my house, i know nothing about them and want to know if they are dangerous!
NYC Wasps are no JOKE. 19-Jun-2010 15:58
I was sitting in my dining room yesterday and saw one of these guys flying around my living room from the corner of my eye. The have an unmistakable, very ominous way of flying. Very slow, almost hovering with their long legs dangling beneath their insidious looking body. Don't get these guys wrong though, they are capable of flying rather quickly. Now I have seen these before in NYC but never payed much attention to them till it showed up in my house. Having two little kids I was not going to take a chance of saving this guy, instead I decided it would be best to squish him into submission or death, which ever came first. Sadly this poor Wasp turned out to be very docile, passive and almost indestructible creature. It took three hard and direct swats with a towel, one full on shmush with said towel into a wall before it fell to the ground which enabled me to jump and step on it a few times before it was temporarily knocked out.. yet far from dead. Maybe it was the fact I was mushing him into the carpet and not a harder surface that enabled him to survive all 215lbs of my fat ass precisely placed on top of his tiny little exoskeleton. However considering that all my efforts merely resulted in dazing this freak of nature, I decided it would be best if I flushed him. My question is ..does anyone know if the Great Black Wasp can swim? ...cause he looked really pissed when he realized he was being flushed.
Guest 12-Jun-2010 01:11
my dad ran across one up in Gull Lake, Sask. Canada. Thing landed on his neck. He brushed it off and stepped on it twice with steel toed work boots before it died. Drom the comments here he`s lucky he didn`t get stung. He wasa good half hour away from anyplace with a doctor.
Ralphy 07-Nov-2009 21:46
Just killed one of these bad boys. lived in Nor Cal my whole life and have never seen one before. It was in my house. What the heck!
Mattyd 24-Sep-2009 03:55
AMazing. I'm inside the house and hanging with a friend when i notice the cat staring at something, which he only does to living things. Look up at the one plant in my room and notice this creature, it was unbeliveable, how foolish and naieve i am to not expect giant size versions of anything scuttling about from various old spaces of this planet. But S?;T!
Definitely this wasp. It WAS staring at us, just poised on a leaf, calmly i put ajar over it and studied for a moment(about 2" long, same characteristics as all of these posts) then walked outside to let it free....Havent gone back outside to check the jar yet. It was not outwardly aggressive and in fact i did not see it fly at all. Oh, forgot to mention that i live in NEW YORK CITY! Haven't seen a post from ny on this page. Craziness!
So the sense of it comes in that i live across from the brooklyn navy yard at a spot where there is an old civil war hospital and burial grounds, very green, not open to the public and there are many many CICADAS! I'm sure dude is having himself a buffet and a half over there, don't think he needs to be in my house! NutS.
Guest 15-Sep-2009 13:38
I live in Katy, Texas. I may have seen this guy flying around the other day. It was so big, I hate to think what it would do if it stung me. It was probably 2 1/2 inches or more. Biggest wasp I've ever seen!
zynski 14-Sep-2009 02:56
I was out trimming the sedum in the front yard - I'm in coastal New Hampshire. They're very colorful right now. The plants were loaded with bees. I didn't bother them and they didn't seem to mind me. A couple of these huge black things showed up. Just their speed and aggressive nature scares the poop right out a ya. They made it clear they weren't putting up with my presence. I made a "beeline" into the house with them on my tail.
Guest 13-Sep-2009 01:06
Its here in San Diego (Southern CA). We have a swimming pool, yesterday when I went out to clean the water trap I reached in and I just about touched it; that sucker gave me a scare! I thought it was dead, so I dumped it in our bush; surprizingly, today we saw one floating in our pool! We don't know if it was the same one (we hope so!). We saved in a zip-loc bag and hope to get the species confirmed.

Can anyone tell us what their nests look like? And where they build them?
Allison 10-Sep-2009 23:28
If it's the same wasp, it's made it to far northern California. My dog found the nest first, and was stung. What's more amazing than the size of these things, is their amazing aggression. I need to get rid of the nest so I can finish chopping wood, but haven't a clue how to go about it and remain unscathed. I was thinking of knocking the nest down before first light with a water stream from a hose, but am really concerned about their aggression.
josef hludzenski 08-Sep-2009 21:45
I slapped one of these things 20ft across my shop with a 2*4*4 last year 20 minutes later we had to step on it because it was crawling after me. I thought it was amazing...
Brenda 06-Sep-2009 16:16
I live in Mississauga I was stung by a huge black wasp one sting on my upper arm it swelled from my elbow to almost my shoulder. I was in a parking lot of a small plaza I did not see this wasp til it stung me. 5 days later my arm is brillent red and the sting site is hard. Is this normal?
Guest 05-Sep-2009 22:21
These bugs have been buzzing around my fall rasberry crop. They were going after the fiew remaining flowers while I picked the first of the berries. They didn't bother me as long as I didn't bother them.
R Costa 30-Aug-2009 21:18
Just a couple of days ago as I was trimming a shrub I was attacked by several 1.5" mainly black wasps with a grey band around their middle. They followed me into my garage which is about 3 feet away from the bush. Thank God I was wearing a hooded denim shirt & gloves. I quickly covered my head because two followed me as I ran from the garage into an adjoining room, slamming the garage door behind me, ripping off the denim shirt and gloves in the adjoining room. These wasps were just inches away from by face!! I made it into the house itself, but started to pull off the rest of my clothes, knowing that they may be clinging to them. I was SO SCARED because of their size, yeah, but their agression was incredible. I emptied all manner of sprays I had in my kitchen. I tried the long-range spray for wasps aimed at the bush. It didn't bother them in the least! However, the flying-insect type for house flies and mosquitos killed the two in the room connecting home to garage. Later, the same day my husband & I watched smaller wasps flying out of the shrub. He wouldn't believe me when I kept saying how big they were. The ones I'd killed earlier had doubled up and looked small. But the next day, when he sprayed them close to their nest, he noticed TWO SIZES!! THE LARGER ONES ARE THE ONES THAT CAME AFTER ME!! DO I EVEN WANT TO GO OUT ANYMORE???
CARL JOHNSON 26-Aug-2009 18:58
hi i live up in Rhode island and one of these bastard just flew in my my house i couldent just let live i never seen one of these bugs before soo for my children sake i murdered it and i collected the carcus and ive been studying it and i think ive found a match with this picute of other wasp but this creature has to be the most biggest one and to have 4 wings imm not gonna lie i use to a shirt to kill it and the bastard gave up a fight on my window .. ugh
Jack 25-Aug-2009 00:07
They definitely have made it to Central California. [Sacramento] I was sitting in my yard this afternoon and thought at first I saw a Hummingbird. OOPS! Not a Hummingbird! Biggest WASP I've ever seen, 2.5 to 3 inches! Shiny black and blue like the smaller ones we have around here but HUGE! Not something I'd want to trifle with.
Lea 23-Aug-2009 19:52
Hi everyone! I live in Quebec and I have two of these behemoths living under my front step! I've read everywhere that they aren't aggressive... but as I was removing weeds near their underground nest... they started to come out. They must be 1.5 inches in length! As we were working outside today... they would keep swarming around us, as if they were making sure we didn't get close to their nest. It was almost like they were seeking us out! The only bummer is that their nest is right under our front door! We have no clue what to do and we're REALLY SCARED of them...
Guest 22-Aug-2009 22:17
Holy sheizer, thats all i can say....i have seen the big bad black wasp and it has seen me, matter of fact i was the last thing it saw, no im lying, i shot it in the back, thank god for those 27 foot long sprays they make, that kill on contact, they are no joke....anyway it had to go, oh did i mention i was scared shit when i encountered this prehistoric giant, its like the Redwood of trees in the wasp family, and i would not wanna be on the end of the dagger that surely this beast carries.....anyway it surely is a just ended up in the wrong area, my screened in deck !
Guest 20-Aug-2009 12:39
shawn-canada.i thought i had about four champers in the sand around the pool,due to the amount of grasshoppers they bring back every day i'm not sure becuase they do not stop all day long.1 week ago i had never heard of the great black wasp. so now i am out there every day with a can of wasp blaster in each hand and as the fly in with the grass hopper ( flying slower) i am able to blast them one at a time. just have to be carefull and have a clear path to the house lol
Amie 16-Aug-2009 20:37
This thing is very SCARY!!!!! I had one fly into my garage while I was outside. I have never been stung before, and I would hate to be stung by this thing as a first timer!!!!
marissa 16-Aug-2009 20:04
hi our names are marissa and tom we were going through the panhandle on your way to colorado 2 weeks ago and we foung this wasp i guess it looks like the first picture on your page only has a blue tint to it and its wings are yellow with a stinger of about a quarter to half a inch long it was dead whenwe found it could you enlighten us to what kind it might be thank you
Pascale 13-Aug-2009 02:14
Hi! I live in Ottawa Ontario and i saw one of these enormous wasps today at the daycare where I work. It was flying around the sandbox (where i assume it was looking for a place to burrow) while clutching a green grasshopper (which I also assume it wanted to lay eggs in). Unfortunately, I had to kill the wasp because it wouldn't stop buzzing around the kids in the was terrifying but I was also a little sad because it was quite an interesting creature.
Michelle 12-Aug-2009 20:57
I live in Rockford , Il. We just bought and moved into a new house and these great black wasps are every where! They find their way into the house! I had never seen one before we moved here. I have one now in the computer room with me. I am terrified of any bee let alone one with a reputation like this. I do not want to kill it. Right now it has decided to disappear in the window sill and I am content to let him stay there while I work. Hope I don't get stung!
Stung in North Central PA 12-Aug-2009 02:30
I have been stung by a black wasp last Saturday as I was mosing my front lawn and was stung, I looked down and saw this wasp depicted on my leg. I tried to free myself of this venimous insect, this wasp put up a fight to stayu on my leg, the pain was intense and I worked through it proceeding to finish the lawn. I have been having nausea and vomiting, headaches, dry mouth, swelling from the stings downward into my ankle, with pain and itching for over 4 days, how long is this going to last?
Andrew 10-Aug-2009 17:22
Yeah, I have many different herbs in my yard. They are my mothers herbs and have been getting very interesting wasps in them. I have never seen a wasp like this in PA but I got a little wooden bug container from when I was little and caught it. Very interesting thing.
Guest 06-Aug-2009 15:30
One got trapped in my glass room, near Pontiac, Mich., yesterday, just over 1 inch long, biggest i have seen in Michigan, I gave it a wide berth
I used to see some big wasps in south carolina
Guest 04-Aug-2009 23:53
im mike b from minnesota i saw one coming out from the front stairs out side last summer didnt no what it was only seen it go in an out an this summr same thing but today it was right there in i had a bug kit an i got it black eyes its so pretty 8/4/09
Guest 04-Aug-2009 23:53
im mike b from minnesota i saw one coming out from the front stairs out side last summer didnt no what it was only seen it go in an out an this summr same thing but today it was right there in i had a bug kit an i got it black eyes its so pretty 8/4/09
Sarah 04-Aug-2009 19:33
I have had these wasps coming around my house for the past four years in Monroe County, MI. Anyone have any ideas as to how I can get rid of them?
surprised by wasp 02-Aug-2009 18:36
One of these flew in to my house. I encountered it in the bathroom and it stung me twice as I was changing shirts. It stings are sharp and painful. I have read that they are not aggressive but after being stung after not bothering this wasp I would have to disagree. It came after me and I was at least 5-6 feet away from it. It has been a week and the stings are still red.
Guest 30-Jul-2009 15:28
I have recently seen one of these flying into a small opening to my attic. I am not sure if I should spray it or just leave it alone, especially because I am highly allergic to bees. It sounds as if they are not aggressive so I think I will leave it alone. Sarah, Stanwood, WA
Guest 30-Jul-2009 15:28
I have recently seen one of these flying into a small opening to my attic. I am not sure if I should spray it or just leave it alone, especially because I am highly allergic to bees. It sounds as if they are not aggressive so I think I will leave it alone. Sarah, Stanwood, WA
waspmaster28-Jul-2009 18:05
I have one of these flying around a flower everday in the summer. Now there are two, and i got my butterfly net, but they are too hard to catch because they fly too fast. I want one for my bug collection
Leslie 22-Jul-2009 03:06
Thank you so much for posting these. I had never seen anything like this wasp so when my dog brought one to my attention I was quite nervous. It was from what I am reading here on the large side and quite fast. I'm in Washington State and while it was thrilling to see him, I don't know that I need to see another any time soon! Glad this was here for identification!
Ken 20-Jul-2009 19:28
My 2 yr old left the door open and this magnificent beast flew in. he is 3.5 cm long (just over 1.25") and can get to 5 cm (2")so far I have read they are non-agressive to humans and this one lived up to that. After having shown him to all the neighbors (kept him captive for 20 minutes) and let him go he was happy to get the hell out of here. They do not live in hives (and if there are alot in one area its because of an abundance of food (cicadas or katydids)
Ken 20-Jul-2009 18:48
My 2 yr old left the door open and this magnificent beast flew in. he is 3.5 cm long (just over 1.25") and can get to 5 cm (2")so far I have read they are non-agressive to humans and this one lived up to that. After having shown him to all the neighbors (kept him captive for 20 minutes) and let him go he was happy to get the hell out of here. They do not live in hives (and if there are alot in one area its because of an abundance of food (cicadas or katydids)
AKF 20-Jul-2009 18:21
Right now, I am stuck in the room with my computer and am very hungry. Unfortunately, there is one of these things I swear the size of my palm (at first I thought it was three bees) buzzing angrily outside my door. I have extremely bad luck with bees, I'll probably end up getting stung, and the fact that I'm wearing a tang top and shorts (zero protection from stings) doesn't help. I'm sorry to all you conservationists out there but I just want to kill it without it stinging me. Also, reading about the severity of a sting from one of these, its terrifying because last time I got stung by a very small and harmless looking bee on the top of my forearm, it swelled huge, turned dark red, and was a few degrees warmer than the rest of me, my reactions seem to get worse every time I get stung. Not quite sure what I'm going to do, but I will have to come up for breakfast at some time...
Becca 20-Jul-2009 15:01
I had one in my bathroom yesterday. I trapped it under a cup and took it outside and it flew away. Had never seen one before in Springfield, Missouri, so had to search to find out what it was. The one I saw was probably 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. Beautiful!
mk 18-Jul-2009 00:09
Last year I had one in a stone wall, this year I have one in a crack right next to the pool. It seems harmless, but I would not mess with it... mk grafton, massachusetts
Kevin Ellis 07-Jul-2009 17:42
Thank you all for your great stories about this magnificant Wasp. I too am a naturalist and do not belive in harming any other living creature. These Wasps are outside of the shelter at which I work. What recommendations do you all have for me to tell the resedence that live here. They all want me to estinguish them and I tell them just to stay away, any comments?.
TSK 06-Jul-2009 15:40
I live in Georgia and this morning I woke up to this guy in my room flying around and I managed to trap it and cut it's head off but it was still moving and is still moving 2 hours later.
Dc 28-Jun-2009 21:16
I am in Bolton Ontario and have encountered the Great black Wasp. (I Think) There are about 30 in my gazebo and I am unsure of how to get rid of them. Help???
Randi Hites 25-Jun-2009 04:27
i live in durand michigan, my family and i saw 1 last year and we didnt think anything of it but this year was so bad. in the past 3 days we have had 5 inside our house. we had no idea what they were until today. we do know that they are more curious then anything but when they are attacted they are very aggressive. my husband was trying to get one that was trapped in the bathroom and got dive bombed so many times,he didnt get stung.
Abby 24-Jun-2009 14:15
In our Garage there are normal wasp hornet things flying around and they have this like circle cmob (but not the normal bee comb) and well my dad wants to kill em'. So like yeah. Anyways there are like huge black bee's flying around and stuff. There nasty and look mean. I think they might be the Great Black Wasp but yet again I live in Wisconsin. Do they live in Wisconsin? -Cataract, Wisconsin THANKS!
Lisa 24-Jun-2009 02:38
Just found one of these this afternoon, exploring my kitchen in Westminster, CO. I've never seen them before, born and raised in CO, but I caught it and threw it outside - the wings shimmered blue/black. Very pretty, but after reading all of the comments posted here I wish I'd smashed it!
Donnie 18-Jun-2009 16:53
I meant to add that the ranch is in south east texas.
Donnie 18-Jun-2009 15:35
I meant to add that the ranch is in south east texas.
Donnie 18-Jun-2009 15:34
Yesterday evening I was taking clothes out the washing machine (washer and dryer are outside at the ranch) and there was a nest in between the drum and the skin of the washer and one popped me on the knuckle and my hand swole up like a hamburger bun. The pain is still with me after 12 hours since the sting.
Pam McCoy 13-Jun-2009 18:12
We live in Las Vegas, Nevada and started seeing these insects last year (2008). They start coming around in May. We have large rocks in our landscaping and they hunt for food there. Wolf spiders that live in the rocks seem to be a favorite for them. They are very aggressive and will chase you. And as someone said before, what makes them so eerie is that they are very aware of humans and don't seem to be afraid of us. This year we started seeing baby black wasps so we fear there is a nest close.
chad 11-Jun-2009 01:28
Alright so me and my friend were on this abandoned boat and we were just walking around and i think this is the wasp that stung me on my eye.. The pain was so horrible.. the wasp was huge
guest 14-May-2009 13:49
okay I'm cleaning out my flower bed These huge wasps come out and start flying around my head making stinging motions I got scared and went to finished then went inside to look it up I saw some last saturday They seem to have mest up with the nest though There were Three that were bugging me I know it has to be the Great black wasp
guest 14-May-2009 13:45
okay so my dad told me to clean out the flower bed (I'm 11 and suspended) These huge wasps come out and start flying around my head making stinging motions I got scared and went to tell my mom then finished then looked t up I saw some last saturday They seem to have mest up with the nest though There were Three that were bugging me I know it has to be the Great black wasp
Kayla 18-Jan-2009 07:54
I live in New Zealand and we have a black wasp that is bringing in lavae eggs and nesting them in our sorround sound speaker, It blocks up the holes with crusty honey coloured stuff. The other day i cleaned out all the holes and out came HUGE spiders with lavae egss drowned in brown goop! It was disgusting!! The annoying thing is, is that it comes back again!
jules 26-Dec-2008 12:34
Hi there. Just had an encounter today with giant black wasp approx 2 inches. Of the 10 years living in western australia have never encountered one before. It was at window, trapped behind venetian blind and distressed, but quite freaked out along with the kids so sprayed it with baygone. Only like doing that to white tail spiders and red back spiders.
Stephen 09-Sep-2008 11:41
I'm pretty sure this is what I saw flying around my "porch". I live in a town house in Northern California (Walnut Creek area), and we have a garage that is attached via a closed in alcove. We have a lot of wasps nests under the Spanish tile roofing, but I was standing out in front of my garage smoking with a friend of mine and this thing scared the crap out of us. I yelled, "What the **** is *that*!" And we ran for it.. heh. The one we saw was probably about 3 inches long or so and quite a bit fatter than this picture. I saw it buzz my sliding glass door earlier today, so I know it's not gone. I just have to keep on my toes I guess.
Guest 07-Sep-2008 21:40
yes this is the the exact look alike wasp that stung me today
Joan 07-Sep-2008 03:20
OMG!! My cat started meowing in the living room today...I went to see what was wrong..I didn't see anything at that time!! I was getting ready to go to the store and Moses was sitting on the back of the loveseat by the window pawing at it!!! THERE IT WAS..THIS HUGE BLACK WASP!! I grabbed the cat and put him in the bathroom and closed the door..I got spray and sprayed until it wasn't moving anymore!! I'm NOT a fan of stinging bugs INSIDE my house!!! I also had chill bumps & my hands were shaking!! I'm just HAPPY that I found it BEFORE I left the kitties would/could have gotten stung!! YIKES!! I'm in Chicago!!!
Guest 03-Sep-2008 04:02
I live in Asheville, NC and saw one running(?) through the grass. As I got closer to look at it, it turned slightly, as though it knew I was there and started running faster. I had the impression it would have attacked if I kept following it. It had iridescent blue wings and an all black body, 2" long...never seen anything like it! Had an all black wasp in the house, but it was a Mason wasp, much smaller, harmless. From what I've read here, these GBW seem to have some consciousness...eerie! Cheryl
Brent L. Cutler 30-Aug-2008 16:58
We live in Prospect, Kentucky(near Louisville) and have an 8 stall horse barn. Wasps are not uncommon, but I saw the 2 inch, solid black carrying an insect down into a hole. We have a two year old and I am always concerned about anything that could either sting him and/or spook a horse. I ended its life and ran in case there were more. Now I see they are not aggressive, can anyone tell me if it stings?
jensenp30-Aug-2008 06:31
For Peggy:
I found this to be the most helpful online resource I could find ...
What is a Great Black Wasp?
A Great Black Wasp, sphex pennsylvanica, also known as Katydid Killer, is a large solitary non-aggressive black wasp of up to 1 1/2 inches in length. One of the solitary digger wasps, it feeds on nectar, sap, and other insects.

Nesting habit:
Digs a burrow, one egg per chamber, into each of which it places a large insect such as a cicada or katydid which provides food for the hatched young.
Novice identification is simple, in that:
• Wasps fly with their feet trailing below rather than tucked up against their bodies like bees and hornets
• No other wasps in North America are both this large and an unmarked dark black/blue-black. eg, Cuckoo Wasps are also blue-black, but are very small, and Great Golden Digger Wasps are large, but browner and with markings.
What to do if one has wandered indoors:
• Turn out the lights in succession (starting at the back of the room andmoving the line of dimness toward the door) encourages it to fly back outside toward the sunlight.
• Unless physically disturbed, they won't bother you, so don't try to shoo them toward the door. Although they generally ignore people, at that point you may become a target.
• Flyswatters are unlikely to be sufficient, and just irritate the insect. Once aggravated, they will sting.
Peggy 29-Aug-2008 23:12
Can any body give me further information about this magnificent insect? Like its life cycly, living habits and prey? I think I have a colony of them in my stone wall. They have dug out several cups full of soil and are quite at home.I can find no information except comments about them. I need an entomologist. Help.
Peter 29-Aug-2008 21:52
Moultonborough, NH - Yesterday, 8/28/2008, saw something that looked pretty much like this fellow - close to two inches long - working its way through the flowers on some tall flowering shrubs that line the parking lot at our local municipal building - early evening - our local bee expert (currently 3 honeybee hives) said he had never seen anything like the dark monster I described - neither have I - very interesting set of comments here.
Laura 23-Aug-2008 13:13
Yesterday, a Great Black Wasp flew into my house scared the heck out me--flying back and forth over my head--the biggest wasp I've ever seen! I caught it and measured it to be 1.75" long. I didn't know we had these in Connecticut. Never saw one before!
Sarah 22-Aug-2008 06:47
Wow. I didn't believe these bugs excited, I just had a guy friend call me about these wasps. He said while he was tanning he felt a really sharp stinging pain on his butt cheek. He put his hand down to see what it was and he cought one of these. He took it to the doctor with him and they gave him some meds his swollan butt sting, so he's fine. But I have never seen one myself till I googled to this page, but wow, I would hate for these insects to cross my path.
Guest 21-Aug-2008 20:20
Louise August 21, 2008
We have them also in Coon Rapids, MN. Today is the first time I have found these great pictures of one. Very aggressive but cool looking.
Blake 21-Aug-2008 16:02
Blake from royal pool and spa in white bear lake minnesota. we captured one in our store and it is wicked looking. lots of scare.
Claudia 19-Aug-2008 19:03
OMG !! We just saw one of these carrying a locus type grasshopper... this thing is huge and scary! From Lake Ida, west central Minnesota :(
Jennifer 19-Aug-2008 04:48
Yep, They are in Sacramento! Thought I was hearing a rat in the rafters of my garage, turned out to be one of these banging against the shop light repeatedly. Weve got it floating in a jar of alcohol and took photos of it next to a ruler and next to a quarter. It is so unbelievably big-- never seen anything this large in Sacto--does anyone know where they are from? We've got big black widows, but this is ridiculous.
matt soucie 17-Aug-2008 19:53
i have seen these goliaths under my step and around my back yard.i just killed one in my house with a golf club, i also killed 3 last summer in august.they are very smart and carefully watch what youre doing when you are around they sting and should i be worried , i have 2 little girls, 2 and 4 years old. please give me some info.could hey hav a nest under my step and how big is a nest approximately?????????????? thanx for the help.
Lisa 16-Aug-2008 01:39
OMG..So they for sure have made it out to Northern California. One just buzzed into my frount door. The thikng was the bigist Bug I ever seen.. Theis was like 45 minutes ago and I still ahve goosed bumps. I am not sure if they are from his/her size or the fact that I have never seen anything like it before.It was almost stairing me down. My husband traped it in a large bath towl and took it out side. ( THe bug lover i am not, I still wanted him to set it free).Oh...I am keeping the kids in for the nigh
Guest 13-Aug-2008 01:17
Guess what? They've come out to California now! My wife thought it was a hummingbird at first, since it was buzzing around our grapevine. It's now holding our grapes hostage. Everytime we go near, it makes sure we know to stay away. We can't decide if the next step is to get out the pellet gun or call an exterminator. I don't want to be around it either way.
marnyd 09-Aug-2008 17:25
august 2008 today this magnificent 2 inch long black wasp landed on my trailblazer's radio antennae. I approached it to get a "bird's eye view", but stopped short and backed up when I saw the very long stinger on it's backside drip 2 large drops of a clear liquid (I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the drops were venom !!!!) I got the message, as the black behemoth seemed to be watching me the entire time. I let the great wasp alone. As far as I was concerned, he could have the keys to the truck and all my groceries, if he wanted them......just don't sting me!!!!! P.S. It's been a phenomenal year for strange and exotic looking caterpillars here in western new york (near where Lake Erie and Lake Ontario meet.)
Alison 08-Aug-2008 16:26
Me and my mom have this outdoor tent and there was this black wasp in it my mom didn't know what it was and she asked me to get it out so I got the butterfly net and caught it. I put it under a bucket and realised that was mean my sister was with me and I told her to stand back then she went behind the doghouse I had kitchen gloves on in case it stung me and I lifted up the bucket and ran into the house then about a minute later my sister barged through the front door and said that it was chasing her but then she got over it and settled down and that was the last I've seen of a black wasp.
kitchell 31-Jul-2008 17:37
I have a ground nest of GBW in my back yard. Around the nest in the morning it looks like a black tornado of activity. Bee spray, gas, fire; none of these things work for me any ways. I tried to drown them out but got only a portion of them cause the hive is so big. What can I do to kill them all without draining my wallet?? Oh yeah..I watched them attack a bird...scarry!
David DeGraaf 30-Jul-2008 00:40
For about 4 years we have been seeing these black wasp at my place of employment. These things are big, scary looking, like no other. As another has said they show up in the heat of the summer. There is a special spot that we see them by our building were there are 4" to 6" rocks for land scaping. They buss around and land in the rocks and crawl down under them like there going to a hive. After watching them for longer periods they do not go to the same spot twice or do they all go to the same area. It seems they are looking for food???
Also on 2 occasions I have seen them land on the rocks with something that is simalar to a grass hopper that is twice there size, it seems they eat other bugs.
They are pretty resistant to the bee and wasp spray, believe me we have tried several times. I'm thinking flame thrower would be the best?
Though they seem aggressive we have never been stung, even though we tried many times to get rid of them, we spray and run. Good luck, let me know if anything works? Holland Mich.
Guest 24-Jul-2008 19:28
hellos. My name is Daniel lopez. Yesterday I saw somthing stuck
in the window. I thought it was a beattle I got it by its antenas.
When I got it I saw it was a black wasp. I have never seen one.
Ever since I got a rash on both of my armes what should I do.
Bev Wigney15-Jun-2008 21:50
There are smaller ones that are all black, but this kind (Great Black Wasp) is very large compared to the others.
Haley Lou 15-Jun-2008 19:26
I was cleaning up my porch and I saw one. I see them all the time. Why are they called the Great wasps? They look like a regular one.
Bev Wigney16-Sep-2007 13:57
I don't know that there would be more of these around that usual, but if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, I guess you'll see them. One thing I've been wondering about with many of the reports I've had of people seeing various caterpillars, spiders, flying insects, etc.. is if it's more a case of people just becoming increasingly observant of insects these days. For years, it seemed that not that many people were so interested in insects, but the number who take the time to try to figure out what they are seeing seems to be on the increase.
Guest 15-Sep-2007 19:47
I saw one yesterday as I was cleaning up the yard and picking up crab apples. This is in Medicine Hat Alberta. Then today the owner of the house saw the same black wasp
Have never seen one before, are they common to this area?
Bev Wigney10-Sep-2007 12:36
Paul - I seem to find this species mainly in late summer, so perhaps they're around where you are, but just for awhile each year, so escape notice. I can't imagine what is wrong with the bees and wasps around your place, but it does sound a bit like pesticide poisoning, doesn't it. Some species of wasps feed on spiders, so perhaps they're being poisoned after feeding on prey that has ingested the granules.
Regarding this site, it's one of my online photogalleries. I'm a nature photographer and have so far posted about 5,000 of my images (mainly insects). I'm constantly adding to the collection as I have time.
Paul 10-Sep-2007 02:28
Greetings! Thanks to whomever runs this site,most especially for the info on Black Wasps.While outdoors today,we found a black wasp on the ground. This was very unusual for Colorado/Colorado Springs. I have lived here over 20 years and never seen one. Size was about an inch to inch and a quarter long. Odd additional occurrence, over the last 3-4 weeks, I have been finding live bees/wasps, including this black one,crawling around on the ground,not flying.With today's black wasp,found on the ground,an additional 6-7 yellow wasps also crawling around. Only pesticide used (over 1 month ago)standard 'ant/spider' granule. Usually 'barely' kills the ants.Weird.Thanks again!
Bev Wigney05-Jul-2007 17:25
Joyce - I don't know anything about how to get rid of them. I've only seen them in my garden a few times since photographing this one. If you do a Google search for "Sphex pennsylvanicus" and just check out some of the websites that come up, you'll probably find at least one or two that have information on how to get rid of them.
Joyce Aldrich 05-Jul-2007 16:30
I live in Southern Michigan and I have these flying all over my flower garden. Since they arrived there are no other bees or butterflies. They are very agressive. Is there any way to get rid of them? I can't go near my flowers during the day when they are here. Also was stung by one. Any information on ridding my garden of these wasps would really be appreciated. Thank You
Digoy 18-Sep-2006 14:04
I'was stung with one of these back in our country southern part of the philippines at the province of bukidnon. They form their nest out of dirt into an oblong shape hanging unto a remote tree branch. These bees are very agressive it is attracted to dark color specially black and that's my head. This wasp's sting felt like a sling shot at least that's like it when i was ten. Just in approx' 20 mins. i was partially blind,confused,felt like i was inside a water tank, and worse it seemed a heavy cargo was on my head. My most fear at that time was the rumor that this wasp can kill a waterbuffalo from a single sting (of course one wasp, one sting), guest i almost died that day.
If you get stung someday, God forbid! quickly run to a safe place, call another person if there is anybody,for help!!! tell him/her to carefully remove the stinger needle (it pumps venom very slow)i'm sure He/she will not miss it specially if it comes from a 3" wasp, and of course call emergency. You might just have to suffer from a very very high fever and lots of vomits but better than being dead!!!
Anyway that was the most dreadful day of my life and not bad probably turned me out to be the most religious boy at that moment too.Yet there was a story behind that incident but maybe next time.
Bev Wigney29-Jun-2006 01:23
Hi Bonnie -- Well, that's quite an encounter with a wasp or bee! Hard to be sure of what kind it would be, but if you ever get a chance to shoot a photo, it would be interesting to see what kind of insect it was. I've run into the odd aggressive insect. About two years ago, a very large, mostly yellow bumblebee (I think Bombus fervidus) would chase my dog and I whenever we went through one of the gates in a field here at my farm. It got so that it would come after us even before we got to the gate. We also had a bee that hung out in the cedar bush by the hydro meter and would come after anyone who walked around that corner of our house. It never stung, but it was so aggressive that it could put us or our dog on the run as we didn't trust it. So, I'm not all that surprised to hear a story such as yours. What is interesting in all of these examples is that the insect didn't actually sting, but just acted threatening. One wonders if they really would sting, or if it's all just a bluff. The problem is, who really wants to find out for sure. (-:
Bonnie 28-Jun-2006 12:52
Ok, I was stalked, literly by a big black flying ( Bee Im sure) with something hanging from its body as it flew it was at least one and a half inches long. I was taking a bath the other day when this thing, flew by me and landed on the shower curtain. Nervous, cause I got stung in my car the other day by, I guess a bumble bee or carpenter bee, I got out and ran to my room and grabbed a jar with a lid and captured it . I put it out on a brick outside the house, we had retaining wall bricks stacked about neck high out there. I opened the jar to let it out, it just kept flying around in the jar, trying to sting the jar. I left it there, returned to the bath, got dressed and made coffee and started to pack the car up for work. The darn thing was laying on the bottom of the jar. This had to be a half hour later. I thought, darn bee, so I dumped it out. To my amazement, it turned itself over, and stood there in pounce mode.. LOL it actually was staring at me. I got freiked, and went inside, after telling it to leave, go fly away, you dont belong in my house! (as my kids would say, only I would talk to a bee,LOL) I went in and got the coffee, and my keys, locked up.. The darn thing, 10 ,minutes more have passed now, is still standing there staring at the door.
Well, ok i locked the door , and as I walked by this thing, I told it to go away again, fly off, leave, and headed to the car. You know what the darn thing chased me to my car. I jumped in and locked door. LOL, it flew under my hood. I havent seen it since, but I have never had a bee act that agressive. Does anybody think its one of these black wasps? I live in Saint Paul Minnesota, and I have seen these bees before at this house, but not very many. Maybe they arent bees, but the way it was trying to sting that glass, I would say it was one. It gets me it played possom for almost a half an hour. Is that normal? Im sure i MADE IT MAD , but hey , a gals gotta do what a gals gota do, didnt feel like having that onlooker in the tub. Sure would like to know what exactly it was.. I should have just kept it in the jar, but was trying to be humaine. I should have took a pic of it with the digital camera on timer ofcourse., next time I will.
Bev Wigney23-Sep-2004 22:07
Thanks for the ID, Eric. I wasn't sure on the ID due to the lack of metallic colour and also the size of the Chlorion seems like it must be too small. This insect was huge!! (-:
Guest 23-Sep-2004 21:10
Great black wasp, Sphex pennsylvanicus. Chlorion rarely visits flowers and is obviously metallic blue or violet.