|Sand Wasp 5/8" long, J. Lampkin photo, Sep 2013|
Are they dangerous? No. Do they sting? The females do have stingers. They need them to paralyze the prey they lay their eggs on. When the egg hatches, it has all the food it needs to grow into a working adult. The males, who act quite aggressively until they realize you are not a wasp, have no stinger. They act so to defend their territory in hopes of 'getting lucky'. It is rare to be stung by a female sand wasp. She is far too busy finding prey for her young. However, you might feel her sting if you step on her with your bare foot or put your hand on her. Otherwise, feel free to walk through the little carpet of them in the NE corner. Better yet, sit a while and observe them digging in the sand between the bricks, coming and going as they provision each chamber for the next generation.
The adults feed on the nectar they find in our flowers. Thank them for helping with pollination. But, a big thank you goes to them for the work they do when providing for their young. And what is the favorite food choice for this? True bugs. In particular, Stinkbugs! And what stinkbug has now started hatching in our garden? The Squash Bug! First sighting was June 28. Last year they were everywhere. Check your own zucchinis and other cucurbits. Do you find clusters of bronze eggs under some of the leaves? If so, they will hatch and hopefully become food for the next generation of Sand Wasps.
Perhaps, if they run out of squash bugs, they will 'harvest' another stinkbug, that attacks our kale and other brassicas every summer -- the Harlequin Bug!