Digger Wasps Crabronidae

Digger Wasps Crabronidae are a family of solitary species which mostly nest in burrows in the ground, sometimes forming large aggregations in a suitable patch of earth. The females usually have a comb on the front legs for digging. The females paralyse prey (caterpillars, spiders, beetles, flies, other insects) and stock the nests with an immobilised living larder for their larvae. Crabronidae is sometimes included in the Thread-waisted Wasps Sphecidae but most modern taxonomic lists split them. Both are part of the superfamily Apoidea, which includes bees.

Subfamily Philanthinae
Beewolf Philanthus triangulum: head projects further forward than most Crabronidae, which have rather flat fronted head level with the eyes. Females have a sturdy digging comb on the front legs. Nests in sand, making burrows which it stocks with Honey Bees Apis mellifera. The bees are caught, paralysed and carried to the burrow underneath the Beewolf's body. Abdomen yellow, usually with black triangles. Adults active July - September. Also known as the Bee Killer.
A Philanthinae Digger Wasp, possibly a Beewolf, on Eryngium spp (in a garden). To the left, the parasitic fly Eriothrix rufomaculata.
Cerceris arenaria: the most common of the Philanthinae subfamily of wasps. Females have a digging comb on the front legs. The first abdominal segment is rounded, with two prominent yellow spots. The abdominal segments are very clearly delineated, as though the wasp is tied up like a piece of roast meat. Adults active May - September. Makes deep nest burrows in sand, stocked with weevils. There are a number of lookalike closely related species.
Cerceris cf arenaria.


  1. I think I have identified 3 different wasps here in Train One in very small and extremely quick to know we are eating meat or drinking beer. The second in large and less irritatingly In fact I had a nest in an empty barrel and was able to walk. Past the entrance without troubling them. They only threatened me where I accident knocked the barrel; even then they didn't sting me.
    The third has long hind legs and is no trouble at all.
    By the way do you know my cousin Elizabeth Bernays?

    1. No I don't know Elizabeth Bernays. Does she live in the Touraine?