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Manitoba Museum

Bees, Wasps, and Ants (Hymenoptera)

Crabronid Wasps


Most species in this family are solitary, making their own nests and providing for their young. However, some species share nests or parasitize the nests of other wasps. Adults are mainly predators, scavengers, or kleptoparasites, feeding captured prey to their larvae. Prey varies by species, but includes many different kinds of insects and spiders. Adults also feed on nectar, and are commonly found on flowers.

Representative Genera and Species:

Bembix, Cerceris deserta, Philanthus solivagus

Pollinator Life Cycle:

They have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Multiple generations may be produced annually. Females lay their eggs, usually singly in brood cells. She stocks the cells with insects and seals them. Eggs often hatch in 1-3 days. Larvae develop in the cell, feeding on the provided prey, sometimes over winter. They emerge as adults.

Rarity Status:

The status of Canadian species has not yet been assessed, and none are legally protected.

Physical Appearance:

These wasps vary in size (6 to 25 mm long), and can be stout-bodied or slender. Colouration is often black (with or without yellow or greenish markings), or brownish. They have stingers, and multi-segmented antennae. Some species are characterized by a narrow-waisted abdomen or a cube-shaped head.

Pollinator Habitat:

Many species are ground nesters, sometimes preferring sandy soil. Others nest in dead wood, hollow stems or abandoned insect tunnels in wood.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland/Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie
Crabronid Wasps