sand wasps

(Gorytes spp.)

sand wasp (Gorytes sp.)
Photo by Alfredo Colon

There are 75 species of sand wasps in the genus Gorytes worldwide, 32 species in North America north of Mexico, and at least 2 species in Minnesota. The female builds a nest with several cells in sandy ground. She stings a leafhopper to paralyze it, and carries it back to the nest. Each cell is provisioned with a leafhopper and contains a single egg.


Sand wasps in the genus Gorytes are medium-sized black wasps with yellow markings. They look like and are often mistaken for potter and mason wasps. Compared to other closely related species, Gorytes have a more compact mesosoma, a short pronotum, and a short propodeum. The fourth segment (tibia) of the middle and hind legs have two spurs at the tip. The wing has three submarginal cells. The second and third cells have four sides. The stigma is well developed.


Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30, 82.



Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies)  


Apocrita (narrow-waisted wasps, ants, and bees)  


Aculeata (ants, bees, and stinging wasps)  


Apoidea (bees and apoid wasps)  


Crabronidae (square-headed wasps, sand wasps, and allies)  




Bembicini (sand wasps)  
  Subtribe Gorytina  

Subordinate Taxa


Gorytes abdominalis

Gorytes aequalis

Gorytes africanus

Gorytes aino

Gorytes albidulus

Gorytes albilabris

Gorytes albosignatus

Gorytes ambiguus

Gorytes angustus

Gorytes atricornis ?

Gorytes atrifrons

Gorytes butleri

Gorytes californicus

Gorytes canaliculatus ?

Gorytes catalinae

Gorytes claripennis

Gorytes cochisensis

Gorytes deceptor ?

Gorytes divisus

Gorytes dorothyae

Gorytes effugiens

Gorytes erugatus

Gorytes fallax

Gorytes fasciatus

Gorytes flagellatus

Gorytes flavidulus

Gorytes foveolatus

Gorytes guerrero

Gorytes hadrus

Gorytes harbinensis

Gorytes hebraeus

Gorytes imperialis

Gorytes intrudens

Gorytes ishigakiensis

Gorytes jonesi

Gorytes kohlii

Gorytes kulingensis

Gorytes laticinctus

Gorytes limbellus

Gorytes maculicornis

Gorytes mcateei

Gorytes melpomene

Gorytes montanus

Gorytes natalensis

Gorytes neglectus

Gorytes nevadensis

Gorytes nigricomus

Gorytes nigrifacies

Gorytes nyasicus

Gorytes ocellatus

Gorytes pieli

Gorytes planifrons

Gorytes pleuripunctatus

Gorytes procrustes

Gorytes prosopis

Gorytes provancheri

Gorytes quadrifasciatus

Gorytes quinquecinctus

Gorytes quinquefasciatus

Gorytes ranosahae

Gorytes rubiginosus

Gorytes rufomaculatus

Gorytes samiatus

Gorytes schlettereri

Gorytes schmidti

Gorytes schmiedeknechti

Gorytes simillimus ?

Gorytes smithii

Gorytes sulcifrons

Gorytes tanythrix

Gorytes tobiasi

Gorytes tricinctus

Gorytes umatillae

Gorytes venustus

Gorytes willcoxi


The genus Gorytes was formerly placed in the subfamily Nyssoninae of the family Sphecidae.






Common Names


This genus has no common name. The common name of the tribe Bembicini is sand wasps, and it is used here for convenience.










In Hymenoptera: the front part of the body, consisting of all three segments of the thorax and the first segment of the abdomen, to which the wings are attached.



The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.



In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In other insects, a thickened, dark, or opaque cell on the leading edge of the wing.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.






Visitor Photos

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Alfredo Colon

    sand wasp (Gorytes sp.)   sand wasp (Gorytes sp.)  





Gorytes quinquecinctus
  Gorytes quinquecinctus  



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Other Videos

Aug 3, 2019

Lorsque une Gorytes commence sont nid dans la terre :

Google tranlation: When a Gorytes begins its nest in the earth:

  Gorytes sp. (family Crabronidae)
She Who Tends the Woods

Aug 23, 2018

Edit: Someone on iNaturalist corrected my ID on this wasp. Apparently, it is a Gorytes species from family Crabronidae, which they informed me preys on leafhoppers and nests in the ground. As such, I have updated the video title and removed it from the "Tale of Two Wasps Playlist," which featured a mason wasp and a cuckoo wasp, which snuck into its nest.

A little after 10:00 a.m. on the morning of August 23, I noticed a wasp I didn't recognize hunting among my raspberry plants. Later that day, after reviewing the footage, I would recognize it as a mason wasp. It may have been the same one, who will make an appearance in the next video, or perhaps a close relative.




Visitor Sightings

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  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

sand wasp (Gorytes sp.)

  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

sand wasp (Gorytes sp.)







Created: 5/17/2021

Last Updated:

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