shield-handed wasps

(Crabro spp.)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro sp.)
Photo by Alfredo Colon

Crabro is a genus of square-headed wasps known as shield-handed wasps. There are more than 100 Crabro species worldwide, 46 species in North America north of Mexico, and at least 12 species in Minnesota.

Crabro wasps are solitary and predatory. Females build a nest in the ground and provision it with small insects.

Some species can deliver a painful sting if provoked.


Crabro wasps are medium sized to large wasps, ranging from ¼ to 1 (7 to 25 mm) in length.

The body is stout and typically black or brown with yellow or white markings.

The head is rectangular and broader than long. The triangle of three simple eyes (ocelli) on top of the head is broad. The abdomen is closely attached to the thorax, not petiolate.

The forewings have a single submarginal cell.

On the male, the lower edge of the fourth segment (tibia) of the front legs is expanded into a large plate (tibial shield). The plate is used to cover the eyes of the female during mating. It filters light in a way that is unique to each species, letting the female know that the male is of her own species. Other genera have similar plates on their front legs, but these are attached to the third segment (femur) or end section (tarsus). Only Crabro have the tibial shield. It occurs on 75% of Crabro species worldwide.


Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.



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)  


Crabroninae (square-headed wasps)  


  Subtribe Crabronina  

Subordinate Taxa


Common Slender-bodied Digger Wasp (Crabro cribrarius)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro advena)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro argusinus)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro cingulatus)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro cognatus)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro cribrellifer)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro hilaris)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro latipes)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro monticola)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro peltarius)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro peltista)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro scutellatus)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro snowii)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro tenuis)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro tumidus)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro vernalis)

shield-handed wasp (Crabro villosus)






Common Names


shield-handed wasps











On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.



Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.



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






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Alfredo Colon

    shield-handed wasp (Crabro sp.)   shield-handed wasp (Crabro sp.)  








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  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

shield-handed wasp (Crabro sp.)  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

shield-handed wasp (Crabro sp.)  






Created: 3/8/2023

Last Updated:

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