Categories » Ants, Bees, Wasps

Order: Hymenoptera: Derived from the Greek words "hymen" meaning membrane and "ptera" meaning wings. Often referred to as social insects despite a vast majority actually lead solitary lives. Called stinging insects as well, however, many do not, and only the females are capable of inflicting pain. All can be identified by two pairs of membrous wings, hind pair smaller (some worker castes and females wasps are wingless), and often narrow constriction of body between thorax and abdomen. They vary vastly in appearance otherwise, but are grouped mostly for evolutionary relationships.*


Acrobat Ants:
Distinct heart-shaped abdomens which can ooze formic acid when workers are threatened. Most are omnivores.

Black Carpenter Ants:
They do not eat wood but hallow out nesting chambers, and feed on live and dead insects. Males and Queens swarm in spring.

Carpenter Ants, other:
Just have sub genus Camponotus americanus for now, related to Black Carpenters Ants, but look differently.

Citronella Ants
Emit a lemony citronella odor when threatened, feed off mealybug and aphid honeydew and are often confused with termites.

Little Black Ants:
The name says it all. It is also a native of urban USA, hurray! Nests in cracks in masonry, wood and soil.

Antsy to identify


Bumble & Carpenter Bees: Our only native social bees, are warm blooded. They "buzz pollinate" some plants where only vibration frequency releases pollen.

Digger Bees: Fast flying and experts at hovering, they alight only briefly. They also nest in the ground in large groups, many creating mud chimneys around entrance.

Honey Bees: Were introduced to Jamestown in 1622 where they pollinated introduced crops for European settlers, America's first apiculture (beekeeping).

Leafcutter Bees: Females collect pollen under their abdomens, vs. on their legs like most bees. Named from cutting circular holes in leaves for nests.

Long-horned Bees:The name refers to the long antennae on the males in particular. I have mostly the Genus Melissodes, for now.

Sweat Bees: Generally small to medium sized, named because some are known to land on humans, supposedly attracted to the sweat.

What this Bee be?


Braconid Wasps: Parasitic to other insects, most quite small, but larger ones may be confused with Ichneumon Wasps.

Cuckoo Wasps: Also called Gold Wasps, mostly parasitic in nest of other bees or wasps. Adults do not sting, and look similar to sweat bees.

Gall Wasps: Tiny in size, they form many kinds of galls, abnormal plant growths stimulated by the grubs, as do Gall Flies and midges, usually depends on plant.

Horntails: Large cylindrical wasps found in forested regions, but are harmless despite their size and appearance. Larvae are woodborers.

Ichneumon Wasps: Largest family in the Hymenoptera order, difficult to ID. Some females sport long egg laying organs (ovipositors), others have shorter ones that sting.

Pelecinid Wasps: Recognized by extremely long abdomens and swollen hind ankles, females probe soil for may beetles grubs to lay one egg upon.

Potter and Mason Wasps: Nearly all solitary, females are parasitic to caterpillars. A few construct mud nests but majority use pre-existing cavities.

Sawflies: Stingless wasps, females use saw-like organ to deposit eggs. Larvae are often mistaken for caterpillars of butterflies and moths.

Scoliid Wasps: Large, usually hairy, parasitic on scarab beetle larvae. Sexes often look radically different. Some males sleep in small groups curled around stems.

Solitary Wasps: Include mud daubers, bee wolves, cicada killers, and related hunting wasps. Females are typically specialized predators of other insects.

Social Vespid Wasps: Includes hornets, paper wasps, yellowjackets, hornets. They are valuable for dispatching with large numbers of pests especially caterpillars.

What Wasp?

*Excerpted from Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

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