Ant or Wasp? (Jack, Eastern Washington)




I don't know where to start with this critter - ant or wasp? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Eastern Washington state elev. 2900' sage biome, about 1/2" long, solitary foraging (frantically) on ground with short bursts of flight, eventually disappeared down a hole. Thank you much!

Jack

flyingant.jpeg

Hi Jack,

Thanks for reaching out. Although the picture is a bit blurry for complete identification, your description seems to suggest that the insect is a wasp rather than an ant. Most queens and males have wings, but these are usually used strictly during the mating period. Because male ants are drones and don't forage--they just eat, mate, and die--it isn't likely a male ant from your description. Likewise, as most queens shed their wings after nuptial flight, it is unlikely that this is a queen using her wings to forage around the nest. Additionally, considering there wasn't any mention of others in the vicinity, it is more likely that it is a wasp, which live a more solitary lifestyle than most ants.

Although I am not an expert on wasps, the picture you sent looks remarkably close to a red-tailed spider hunter wasp. A pictoral list of Eastern Washington wasps can be found here.

Happy hunting!
Max Winston & the AntAsk Team

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