Family Sphecidae and Crabronidae - Apoid Wasps, Mud-Daubers and Sand Wasps 

Order Hymenoptera, Apoidea

This page contains pictures and information about Mud-Daubers and Sand Wasps that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. They are also known as Sphecid Wasps and Apoid Wasps.
Species in these two families, Sphecidae and Crabronidae, are solitary hunting wasps.  Female wasp makes nest in soil or build mud cells for her young. She paralyses host arthropod, usually other insects or spiders, by her sting.  The sting is a modified ovipositor which injects venom paralyses but not kill the host. She keep the hosts in the nest and lay egg on hosts body. Larva hatches and feeds externally on prey. Larvae are legless and grub-like. See our Panda Sand Wasp page in which we had the detail information.
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Adult wasps feed on nectar or honeydew. 
Wasps in these two families are from small to large in size and some species have long slender waist. Adult wasps feed on nectar or honeydew. All wasps in this family will sting, although most Australian species are not aggressive. They usually found hunting on ground or on leaves, or sometimes found dragging prey to their nest. Nests are different for different species. Some nests are made by burrowing in the ground, by using existing cavities in ground, in dead wood or in  pith of plants. Some species construct mud cells in open, on house walls or rocks or tree trunks, some use abandoned mud nests.
The classifications of Sphecidae and Crabronidae are very confusing. Sphecidae and Crabronidae were in one family Sphecidae and was the single family under former Superfamily Sphecoidea. As now most recognised, the former Sphecidae is divided into two families, Sphecidae and Crabronidae. The redefined Sphecidae family constitutes only the subfamily Sphecinae. The Crabronidae constitutes the rest of the former Sphecidae subfamilies. The Sphecoidea and Apoidea are closely related and lately they are combined in one Superfamily Apoidea. Sphecidae and  Crabronidae wasp species are differ from other bees in Apoidea in lacking branched hairs and broad, flattened hind legs.
Wasps in this group usually have two spurs on hind tibia. Pronotum more or less attached freely with mesothorax. Antennae usually 12 segmented in female and 10 segmented in male. Females often with specialised structures for digging. 
We found quite a number of wasps in Sphecidae and Crabronidae and listed in the following pages; 


Sceliphroninae - Mud-dauber Wasps
Wasps in Sceliphroninae build mud cell nest and provisioned the young with spiders. They have very long and slender petioles. They are the true mud-dauber, building their nest with moist clay in hollow tree-trunks, sheltered part of rocks or on walls of houses.
Ammophilinae - Thread-waisted Wasps
The wasps in Ammophylini are usually black/red or black/yellow in colours. They build ground burrows and provision with caterpillars
Sphecinae - Thread-waisted Wasps and Mud-daubers
Wasps in subfamily Sphecinae are usually black in colour, from medium to large size. They have the abdomen link with thorax with very slender cylindrical stalk-like petiole. They predatory on Orthoptera, including grasshoppers and katydids. Females build nest for their young by digging long tunnel in sandy ground.


Crabroninae (Larrinae) - Sand-loving Wasps
Wasps in this subfamily Crabroninae are medium to large in size, with long body and usually black (and orange), more elongate than Bembicinae. They have spiny-legged and frequently with deformed ocelli. They generally provision with Orthoptera. Some species provision with spiders
Bembicinae (Nyssoninae) - Sand Wasps
Sand Wasps in this subfamily Bembicinae are medium to large in size. They are ground nesters. Females dig long barrow in sandy ground as nest for the young. They provision their nest with different insect prey, mostly flies.
Philanthinae - Social Digger Wasps
Digger Wasps in subfamily Philanthinae are medium in size. They are black with orange-yellow bandings. There is the petiole segment between the thorax and abdomen. The abdomen is constricted between segments. The head is relatively large and wide. Those Digger wasps nest in bare, firm ground. They nest communally and there is some division of labour.

Unknown Sphecid Wasps

1. Insects of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, pp 989.
2. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p297. 
3. Family SPHECIDAE Mud-daubers, Sand Wasps - Australian Faunal Directory, Australian Biological Resources Study, 2009.
4. What wasp is that? - An interactive identification guide to the Australasian families of Hymenoptera, 2007.
5. Sphecidae - Insects of Townsville, Australia - Graeme Cocks.
6. Wasps - family Sphecidae - lifeunseen.com, by Nick Monaghan.
7. The sand wasps: natural history and behavior - Howard Ensign Evans, Kevin M. O'Neill, 2007.
8. Northern Territory Insects, A Comprehensive Guide CD - Graham Brown, 2009.
9. Sphecidae - Australian National Insect Collection Database, CSIRO.
10. Family SPHECIDAE (Digger Wasps) - Insects of Cedar Creek, Ecosystem Science Reserve, 2000.
11. Sphecidae {family} - Barcode of Life Database. 

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Nesting Behaviour ] Sphecidae ] Crabronidae ] Unknown Sphecid Wasps ]


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Last updated: July 14, 2012.