A. S. (Alpheus Spring) Packard.

Guide to the study of insects, and a treatise on those injurious and beneficial to crops: for the use of colleges, farm-schools, and agriculturists online

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abdomen is pedicelled, and differs from Mimesa, a still more
slender-bodied genus, in having the tip of the abdomen more or
less grooved, while in Mimesa it is flat and not grooved at all.
Psen leucopus Say has a dense silvery pile on the front of
the head, with black antennae, and the pedicel is rather short.

NYSSONID^E Leach. In this family the head is transversely
longer and less cubical than in the preceding group ; the ver-
tex is higher and more convex, while the front is narrow, the
clypeus long and narrow, the eyes long and narrow, and the
antennae are more clavate than in the Crabroniclce, and
the propodeum is sometimes armed with acute spines, while
the enclosed space is smoothly polished or striated. The wings
are long and narrow, and the abdomen is sessile in the typical
genera, where it is obconic, but clavate when pedicellate.

In Trypoxylon the body is long, with a pedicellate clavate
abdomen. In Europe "Mr. Johnson has detected it frequent-
ing the holes of a post preoccupied by a species of Odynerus,
and into which it conveyed a small round ball, or pellet, con-
taining about fifty individuals of a species of Aphis ; this the
Odynerus, upon her return, invariably turned out, flying oat
with it, held by her legs, to the distance of about a foot from
the aperture of her cell, where she hovered a moment, and then
let it fall ; and this was constantly the case till the Trypoxylon
had sufficient time to mortar up the orifice of the hole, and the
Odynerus was then entirely excluded ; for although she would
return to the spot repeatedly, she never endeavored to force
the entrance, but flew off to seek another hole elsewhere."

T. politum Say has purplish wings, and no enclosure on the

T. frigidum Smith lives in the stems of Syringa, from which
it has been reared by Mr. Angus. The thin, delicate cocoon is
long and slender, enlarging slightly towards the anterior end.

The genus Mellinus (belonging to the third subfamily, Mel-
linince,) is known by its broad front, and slender antennae,
and its pedunculate abdomen, while in Alyson, a slender-
bodied genus, it is sessile. Mellinus bimaculatus Say has a
black head, with pale tipped antennae, and two ovate yellow
spots oi the abdomen. Alyson oppositus is black, with two


yellow spots on the abdomen, which has the basal ring yel-
lowish red in the female.

The fourth subfamily is the Nyssonince, so named from Ny. -
son, a typical genus.

The genus Gorytes is truly a mimetic form, closely simulat-
ing the genus Odyneitis, one of the Vesparice. The front of
the head is narrow, while the clypeus is larger than usual. The
species are numerous, occurring late in the summer on the
flowers of Spiraea. Gorites flavicornis Harris is polished russet
brown, with narrow yellow rings on the abdomen, the propo-
dcum is smooth and polished, and the basal ring of the abdomen
is black. A species has been observed in Europe protruding
her sting into the frothy secretion of Tettigoniae living on
grass, and carrying off the insect to provision its nest with.

Oxybelus is a short, stout, black genus, with whitish abdomi-
nal spots, and stout spines on the thorax, while the sessile
abdomen is distinctly conical. "Its prey consists of Diptera,
which it has a peculiar mode of carrying by the hind legs the
while it either opens the aperture of its burrow or else forms a
new one with its anterior pair. Its flight is low, and in skips ;
it is very active." (West wood.)

Oxybelus emarginatus Say has two oval membranous appen-
dages to the metathorax, and is a common black species found
abundantly on the flowers of the Virginia Creeper.

In Nysson the body is a little longer, narrow compared with
that of Oxybelus, while the terminal joint of the antennae is
thickened, flattened, and excavated beneath. Nysson lateralis
Say is dull black, with six light spots on the abdomen.

The species of Stizits are of large size and easily recognized
by their hirsute body, stout legs, triangular silvery clypeus,
and the high transverse vertex of the head. The propodeum
has a faintly marked triangular enclosure. The species are
very rapacious, paralyzing grasshoppers and other large insects
with their formidable sting, and carrying them off to provision
their nests. Professor S. Tenney has sent us a specimen of
the Dog-day Cicada (C. canicularis) which Stizus speciosus had
thus stung. Mr. Atkinson has observed the same fact, and has
found the deep burrows of this species, the hole being three-
fourths of an inch in diameter. He has observed it feeding on
sap running from a tree.


The species of Larra are smaller, and differ from those of
Stizus in the long, narrow, very prominent labrum, the shorter
clypeus, broader front and longer abdomen, the tip of which is
without the broad subtriangular area which is present in Stizus
and the other genera of this family. Larra unidncta Say is black-
ish, with a single reddish band on the second abdominal ring.

BEMBECID^E Latreille. We have but two genera, Bembex
and Monedula, which have large heads and flattened bodies,
bearing a strong resemblance to Syrphus flies from their similar
coloration. The labrum is very large and long, triangular, like
a beak. The species are very active, flying rapidly about
flowers with a loud hum. "The female Bembex burrows in
sand to a considerable depth, burying various species of Dip-
tera (Syrphidae, Muscidie, etc.), and depositing her eggs at the
same time in company with them, upon which the larvae, when
hatched, subsist. When a sufficient store has been collected,
the parent closes the mouth of the cell with earth." " An
anonymous correspondent in the Entomological Magazine, states
that B. rostrata constructs its nests in the soft light sea-sands
in the Ionian Islands, and appears to catch its prey (consisting
of such flies as frequent the sand ; amongst others, a bottle-
green fly) whilst- on the wing. He describes the mode in
which the female, with astonishing swiftness, scratches its hole
with its forelegs like a dog. Bembex tarsata, according to
Latreille, provisions its nests with Bombylii." (Westwood.)
Dufour states that two Diptera, Panopea carnea and Toxophora
fasciata, the latter allied to Systrophus, are parasites on Bem-
bex. Mr. F. G. Sanborn has noticed the exceedingly swift
flight of our common Bembex fasciata Fabr. on sandy beaches
where it is found most abundantly.

Monedula differs from Bembex in its slenderer body, more
clavate antennae, and its shorter, very obtuse labrum. The
body is smoother, and most generally more highly colored and
more gaily spotted than in Bembex.

Monedula Carolina Fabr. and M. A-fasciata Say are common
southwards of New England.

LARRID.E Leach. Mr. F. Smith defines this family as having
"mandibles notched exteriorly near the base ; the labrum con-

LAKRID.E. !;:>

c '.-iled, with a single spine at the apex of the intermediate
tibia? ; the abdomen is ovoid-conical."

The genus Astata is a large hairy form, with long antennae
and pulpi and an elongated prothorax. Its spiny legs show its
;iv i ir relationship to the Sphegidce. Astata unicolor Say repre-
sents the genus in this country.

Tuchytes is also of larger size than the following genus.
I is covered with long dense golden short hairs, with a trap-
ezoidal front. Tachytes aurulentus Fabr. is rare ; it frequents
the flowers of the Asclepias, as we have found pollen masses at-
tached to the spines of its legs. We figure
(.si)) fi tarsus of a wasp belonging probably to
this genus, received from Mr. V. T. Chambers,
showing the pollen masses of Asclepias at-
tached to the spines.

The genus Larrada "contains those species
which have the marginal cell truncated at the
apex and appendiculated, and three submarginal
cells, the first as long as the two following;
.... the metathorax [propodeum] truncated
posteriorly, elongate, the sides being generally
parallel ; the mandibles are large and arcuate,
with a tooth on their exterior towards the base ; abdomen
ovate-conical, acuminate at the apex." Larrada argentata
Beauv. is covered with silvery pile. It is a slender form, with
short, nearly unarmed legs.

A Brazilian species of Larrada, according to Mr. H. W.
Bates, builds a nest composed apparently of the scrapings of
the woolly texture of plants ; it is attached to a leaf, having a
close resemblance to a piece of German tinder, or a piece of
sponge. The cocoons were dark brown, and of a brittle consist-
ency. The reporter, Mr. F. Smith, adds : "I am not aware of
any similar habit of building an external nest having been pre-
viously recorded; our British species of the closely allied
genus Tachytes, are burrowers in the ground, particularly in
sandy situations ; their anterior tarsi are strongly ciliated, the
claws Itilid and admirably adapted for burrowing. On examin-
ing the insect which constructed the nest now exhibited, I find
the legs differently armed; the anterior pair are not ciliated.


and the claws are simple and slender, clearly indicative of a
peculiar habit differing from its congeners, and how admirably
is this illustrated in the nest before us?"

SPHEGID^E Latreille. Smith defines this family as having
"the posterior margin of the prothorax not prolonged back-
wards to the insertion of the wings, and anteriorly produced
into a neck, with the abdomen petiolated." The very fossorial
legs are long and spiny, the posterior pair being of unusual
length. The mandibles are large, curved, narrow, and acute,
the base not being toothed externally, and the antennae are
long and filiform. The species are often gaily colored, being
ornamented with black and red, brown and red, or are entirely
black, or blue. They love the sunshine, are very active, rest-
less in their movements, and have a powerful sting.

The sting of these and other wasps which store up insects for
their young, penetrates the nervous centres and paralyzes the
victim without depriving it of life, so that it lives many days.
A store of living food is thus laid up for the young wasp.
After being stung the caterpillars will transform into chrys-
alids, though too weak to change to moths. Mr. Gueinzius,
who resides in South Africa, observes that "large spiders
and caterpillars became immediately motionless on being stung,
and I cannot help thinking that the poisonous acid of Hymen-
optera has an antiseptic and preserving property ; for cater-
pillars and locusts retain their colors weeks after being stung,
and this, too, in a moist situation under a burning sun."

These insects either make their nests in the sand, or, like the
succeeding family, are "mud-daubers," building their cells of
mud and plastering them on walls, etc.

The tropical genus Ampulex is more closely allied to the
preceding family than the other genera. The species are
brassy green. Dr. G. A. Perkins has described in the Ameri-
can Naturalist, vol. 1, p. 293, the habits of a wasp, probably
the Ampulex JSibirica Fabr., which inhabits Sierra Leone, and
oviposits in the body of the cockroach. The dead bodies of
the cockroaches are often found with the empty cocoon of the
wasp occupying the cavity of the abdomen.

A species of this genus, abundant at Zanzibar at certain soa-


son-;. \v;is frequently observed by Mr. C. Cooke to attack the
cockroach. Tlie cockroach, as if cowed at its presence, im-
mediately yields without a struggle. The Ampulex stings
and paralyses its victim, and then flies away with it.

Chlorion is closely allied, containing blue and metallic green
species, often with golden yellow wings. Chlorion cyaneum
Dahlb., a 1)1 ue species, is found in the Southern States.

The genus Prioimmj.? "ditlers from the genus Sphex in hav-
ing the claws quadridentate beneath at their base; the neura-
tion of the wings and the form of the abdomen are the same as
in Ildi-jHi'-tnjitiH" which is found only in the tropics and Aus-
tralia. Priononyx Thomce is found from South Carolina to
Brazil, including the West Indies.

The genus Sphex is quite an extensive one. The head is as
wide as the thorax; the antennae are filiform, mandibles large
and acute, bidentate within, the teeth notched at their base,
forming a rudimentary tooth, the apical tooth being acute.
The thorax is elongate-ovate, truncated behind, with a trans-
verse collar (prothorax). The fore wings have one marginal
and three submarginal cells ; the marginal cell elongate, rounded
at its apex ; the
first submarginal
cell as long as the
two following. The
abdomen is pednn-
culated, conically
ovate, and the an-
terior tarsi are cili-
ated in the females.

Sphex ichneumo-
nea Linn. (Figure
90) is a large rust-
red species, with a
dense golden pu-
bescence. It is common from Massachusetts southwards. In
the last week of July, and during August and early in Sep-
tember, we noticed nearly a dozen of these wasps busily en-
gaged in digging their holes in a gravelly walk. In previous
seasons they were more numerous, burrowing into grassy


banks near the walk. The holes were four to six inches deep.
In beginning its hole the wasp dragged away with its teeth a
stone one half as large as itself to a distance of eight inches
from the hole, while it pushed away others with its head. In
beginning its burrow it used its large and powerful jaws almost
entirely, digging to the depth of an inch in five minutes, com-
pleting its hole in about half an hour. After having inserted
its head into the hole, where it loosened the earth with its
jaws and threw it out of the hole with its jaws and fore
legs, it would retreat backwards and push the dirt still
farther back from the mouth of the cell with its hind legs. In
cases where the farther progress of the work was stopped by a
stone too large for the wasp to remove or dig around, it would
abandon it and begin a- new hole. Just as soon as it reached
the required depth the wasp flew a few feet to the adjoining
bank and falling upon an Orchelimum vulgare or O. gracile,
stung and paralyzed it instantly, bore it to its nest, and was out
of sight for a moment, and while in the bottom of its hole
must have deposited its egg in its victim. Reappearing it be-
gan to draw the sand back into the hole, scratching it in quite
briskly by means of its spiny fore tarsi, while standing on its
two hind pairs of legs. It thus threw in half an inch of dirt
upon the grasshopper and then flew off. In this way one Sphex
will make two or three such holes in an afternoon. The walk
was hard and composed of a coarse sea-gravel, and the rapidity
with which the wasp worked her way in with tooth and nail was

Sphex tibialis St. Fargeau is a black, stout, thick insect.
Mr. J. Angus has reared this species, sending me the larvae in
a cavity previously tunnelled by Xylocopa Virginica in a
pine board. The hole was six inches long, and the oval cylin-
drical cocoons were packed loosely, either side by side, where
there was room, or one a little in advance of the other. The
interstices between them were filled with bits of rope, which
had perhaps been bitten up into pieces by the wasp itself ; while
the end of the cell was filled for a distance of two inches with a
coarse sedge arranged in layers, as if rammed in like gun-wad-
ding. The cocoons are eighty to ninety hundredths of an inch
long, oval lanceolate, somewhat like those of Pompilus. They


of two layers, the outer very thin, the inner tough,
parchment-like. The larvae hybernate and turn to pupae in
the spring, appearing in the summer and also in the autumn.

The larva is cylindrical, with the pleural ridge prominent,
and with no traces of feet ; the head, which is small and not
prominent, and rather narrow compared with that of IVlopa-u-.
is bent inwards on the breast so that the mouth reaches to the
sternum of the fourth abdominal ring. The posterior half of
eaeli ring is much thickened, giving a crenulated outline to the
tergum. The abdominal tip is obtuse.

^L>hex Lanierii Guerin, according to Smith (Proceedings
of the Entomological Society of London, Feb. 7, 1859), con-
structs its nest of a cottony substance, filling a tunnel formed
by a large curved leaf. The species of the genus are sup-
posed to burrow in the ground, and the two cases above
cited show an interesting divergence from this habit. Mr.
Smith adds, that in "the Sphex which constructs the nest in
the rolled leaf, the anterior tarsi are found to be very slightly
ciliated, and the tibiae almost destitute of spines, thus affording
another instance proving that difference of structure is indica-
tive of difference of habit."

The genus Pelopceus is of a slighter form than in Sphex, the
body being longer and slenderer ; the clypeus is as broad as
long, triangular above, in front convex, or produced and end-
ing in two teeth. The outer costal cell is lanceolate oval, the
second subcostal cell subtrapezoidal, being widest above ; it is
also somewhat longer than broad. The first median cell is very
long and narrow, much more so than usual. The pedicel of
the abdomen is long, the first joint in the male being often as
long as the remainder of the abdomen.

The larva of P. coeruleus Linn, is much like that of Sphex,
ha v ing a cylindrical body with the rings thickened posteriorly.
It differs from that of Pompilus in its longer and narrower head,
the short broadly trapezoidal clypeus, and the distinctly marked
exserted labnnn. The mandibles are long and tridentate.

The pupa (of P. flavipes) differs from that of the Vesparice
in having the head more raised from the breast; the palpi are
not partially concealed, as they may be easily seen for their
whole length. The long curved mandibles cover the base of the


maxillae and lingua, and the antennae reach-to the posterior coxae.
The maxillae are slender, not reaching to the tip of the labium.

The female usually provisions her cells (Plate 5, Fig. 14) with
spiders. The cells are constructed of layers of mud of unequal
length, and formed of little pellets placed in two rows, and di-
verging from the middle. They are a little over an inch long,
and from a half to three-quarters of an inch wide, and are some-
what three-sided, the inner side next the object, either stone-
walls or rafters, to which it is attached, being flat. As the
earthen cells sufficiently protect the delicate larvae within, the
cocoons are very thin, and brown in color.

The cells of Pelopwus flavipes from Brownville, Texas, col-
lected by an United States officer and presented to the Boston
Society of Natural History, contained both spiders and numer-
ous pupae of a fly, Sarcopliaga nudipennis Loew (MS) which is
somewhat allied to Tachina. These last hatched out in mid-
summer a few days before the specimens of Pelopaeus. It is
most probable that they were parasitic on the latter. These
specimens of P. flavipes were more highly ornamented with yel-
low than in those found northwards in the Atlantic States,
the metathorax being crossed by a broad yellow band.

The genus Ammophila is a long slender form, with a petio-
late abdomen, the tip of which is often red. The petiole of the
abdomen is two-jointed, and very long and slender, being
longer than the fusiform part. In the males the petiole is in
some species much shorter. The wings are small, with the apex
more obtuse than usual ; the second subcostal cell is pentag-
onal, and the third is broadly triangular.

Westwood states that "the species inhabit sandy districts,
in which A. sabulosa forms its burrow, using its jaws in bur-
rowing ; and when they are loaded, it ascends backwards to
the mouth, turns quickly around, flies to about a foot's distance,
gives a sudden turn, throwing the sand in a complete shower
to about six inches' distance, and again alights at the mouth
of its burrow."

' ' Latreille states that this species provisions its cells with
caterpillars, but Mr. Shuckard states that he has observed the
female dragging a veiy large inflated spider up the nearly per-
pendicular side of a sand-bank, at least twenty feet high, and



that whilst burrowing it makes a loud whirring buzz ; and, in
tin- Transactions of the Entomological Society of London, he
states that he has detected both A. sabulosa and A. hirsuta
dragging along large spiders. Mr. Curtis observed it bury
the caterpillars of a Noctua and Geometra. St. Fargeau, how-
ever, states that. ^1. Milmli)na collects caterpillars of large size,
especially those of Noctuae, with a surprising perseverance,
whereas A. arenaria, forming a distinct section in the genus,
collects spiders." (Westwood.)

AiHiiioitliila ccritt'ntaria Smith, and A. urnaria Klug, are the
more common species in this country ; they are red and white,
while A. luctuosa Smith is a black, shorter, stouter, more hirsute
species. They may all be seen flying about hot sandy places,
and alighting near wells and standing water to drink.

POMPILID^E Leach. In this family the body is oblong, the
sides often compressed, and the head shorter, when seen from
above, being more trans-
versely ovate than in
the preceding family.
The antennae are long,
not geniculate, and in
the males are stouter
and with shorter joints
than in the females.
The eyes are narrow
oval, and the maxillary
palpi are six, and the
labial palpi four-jointed.
The prothorax is ex-
tended on the sides back
to the base of the wings, Fi s- 91 -

which latter are large and broad, the fore pair having three
subcostal cells. The legs are very long and slender, with thick
slender spines. The Pompilidce, of which about seven hun-
dred species are known, have a wide geographical range, from
the temperate zone to the tropics. Like the Sphegidce, they
oviposit in the body of other insects, storing their nests, usually
built in the sand, with spiders and caterpillars.

The head of Pompilus (Fig. 91) is a little longer, seen from


above, than in the other genera ; the front of the head is about

a third longer than broad. The antennae are long and fili-
form and sometimes crenulate, as in Figure 91 a, in the
\ males ; the mandibles are stout, broad, sabre-shaped,
being much curved, with low flattened teeth, and the
maxillary palpi are longer than the labial palpi. The
wings are rather broad, with the three subcostal cells
lying in a straight row. The abdomen is slightly com-
pressed, and equals in length the remainder of the
body. The sting is very large and formidable, and ex-
cessively painful, benumbing the parts it enters. They

* ig. 01 a. are excee( |i n giy active, running and flying over sandy

places like winged spiders.

There are about five hundred species of this genus described.

They are usually shining black or deep bluish black, with

Fig. 92.

smoky or reddish wings, and sometimes a reddish abdominal
band. This genus is interesting, as affording in its form a
mean between the globular thorax and short body of the
Apiarice and the elongated body of the IchneumonidcB.

The Pompilus formosus Say (Fig. 92), called in Texas the
Tarantula-killer, attacks that immense spider the My gale Hentzii,
and, according to Dr. G. Lincecum (American Naturalist, May,


1867), paralyzes it with its formidable sting, and inserting an

egg in its body, places it in its nest, dug to the depth of five
inches. There is but a single brood,
produced in June, which is killed off by
the frosts of November. This species
feeds in summer "upon the honey and
pollen of the flowers of the Elder, and
of Vitis ampelopsis, the Virginia Creeper ;
but its favorite nourishment is taken from
the blossoms of Asdepias quadrifolium."

(Lincecum.) P. cylindricus Cresson (Fig. 93, wing) is one of

our smallest species, being

from three to five lines

long. It occurs in the

South and AVest. P. arctus

Cresson (Fig. 94, wing) in-
habits Colorado Territory.

P. Mariaz Cresson (Fig. 95,

9 enlarged) is a beautiful

and rare species found in

Pennsylvania. The genus

Priocnemis is characterized

by the two hind pair of

tibite being serrated ( $ ,

Fig. 96, a, wing ; &, pos-

Fig. 95.

terior leg ; c, anterior leg), and by the want of spines on the an-
terior legs. P. unifasciatus Say is . a wide-spread species and
6 a readily recognized by the deep black

color of the body, the yellow an-
tennae and the large yellow spot at
the tip of each anterior wing.

The genus Agenia (Fig. 97, a,
wing ; 6, posterior leg) differs in
having smooth legs. A. brevis Cres-

Online LibraryA. S. (Alpheus Spring) PackardGuide to the study of insects, and a treatise on those injurious and beneficial to crops: for the use of colleges, farm-schools, and agriculturists → online text (page 16 of 29)