Spider wasps have a wing length of 2-50 mm and their body is black, bluish black to reddish brown. The abdomen is black with yellow markings, or yellow with black and/or red markings. The legs are long. The females have a potent sting but they are not aggressive. These wasps are rapid flyers and fastrunners, and these behaviors may be threatening to people. Pompilids search for free-living spiders and, after locating, stinging, and paralyzing one, the female spider wasp carries it to a secluded place. She places it in the soil and then lays an egg on the spider. Many species excavate burrows in the ground, and some, such as Auplopus, construct elaborate

Figure 9.11 Hymenoptera: Pompilidae, Sphecidae, Vespidae. (a) Chalybion californicum (Sphecidae); (b) Sceliphron caementarium (Sphecidae); (c) Sphecius speciosus (Vespidae); (d) Eumenes fraterna (Vespidae); (e) Pepsis sp. (Pompilidae).

mud nests above ground. Pompilids generally catch their prey before preparing the burrow or nest site; almost all sphecids (Sphecidae) build a burrow first then search for prey. One of the largest pompilids in Europe is Cryptocheilus comparatus. This species hunts wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and other large spiders. Among the largest wasps in this family are the tarantua-hawks of the genus Pepsis (Fig. g.iie); they occur primarily in southwestern USA. These large wasps provision their nests with tarantulas.

Orb-web spider wasp, Agenioideus humilis Adults are frequently seen around buildings where they prey exclusively on large orb-web spiders (Araneidae). These spiders often build nests near outdoor lights. Female wasps excavate short burrows, often in cracks and crevices in walls of buildings. This species occurs in Puerto Rico. A related species, Agenioideus birkmanni, which is widespread in North and Central America, preys on gnaphosid spiders.

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