Great Black Wasp & Rattlesnake Master

Wasps really have a putrid reputation, many unjustifiably so. This Great Black Wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus) is one that, no doubt, can appear frightening just in its size alone at a length of 1+ inches. But these are not like the Yellow Jackets that have sent many of us running with arms flailing. These wasps are solitary, not social, and have no colony to defend. They are not aggressive and will only sting if you mess with them (applies just to females as the males are stingless altogether.) For more details on this beauty of a wasp, see the below link from Missouri Department of Conservation.

The plant featured in the above and below pictures is Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium.) The Great Black Wasp is one of so many pollinators that FLOCK to this flower. It’s no secret why. According to the book “Pollinators of Native Plants,” one stalk can have between 10-40 flowerheads and each flowerhead is made up of ~106 individual, five-petalled white flowers! Bees, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, and moths cannot resist the plentiful nectar and pollen provided by this plant. It gets to about five feet tall and thrives in full sun, dry soil conditions. Leaves are grayish green, similar to sword-shape of the yucca plant. This plant was once used to treat rattlesnake bites.

To read more about the Great Black Wasp, click here.

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