|University of Kentucky Department of Entomology|
Mystery Bug Answers
Mystery Picture #67
Paper Wasps like the one in the picture are common sights around Kentucky. They like to make their papery nests underneath eaves and in other nooks and crannies around homes. These wasps are social: that means they have a queen that runs the whole colony (just like bees). It also means that they might try to sting if you bother their hive--so watch out!
There are lots of different kinds of wasps that live in Kentucky, but not all of them live in hives. Some live all by themselves, and they usually don't sting. Paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are social though, and are the ones that are most likely to sting.
To see some on-line videos of paper wasp behavior, check out this link: http://es.rice.edu/projects/Bios321/social.wasp.home.html
This was a very hard mystery bug! No one guessed correctly, although there was some VERY creative tries! It is an Oil Beetle. The oil beetle is aptly named. It is shiny black and slightly iridescent, just like an oil spill. Plus, it secretes "oil" from its leg joints that can burn the skin. Oil beetles are also called "short-winged blister beetles" and they are in the blister beetle family (Meloidae). They are one of the largest blister beetles found in Kentucky. Oil beetles are common in meadows, woods, or any other place where beehives are present. Oil beetle larvae grow inside beehives, where they live as parasites.
This page is maintained by Pat Dillon, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky. Please send questions or suggestions to: email@example.com