I snapped this shot at Stratford Point several days ago as this mega wasp caught my eye while I tracked dragonflies zipping around me.
For the most part the odes were Spot-winged Gliders, Wandering Gliders, Swamp Darners, and Common Green Darners, easy to identify and common species, but this thing was just as big. While we always have hundreds of migrant dragonflies, I have noticed that we are hosting a more diverse insect life at Stratford Point this summer, and it is likely due to the more diverse plantings we have growing as a result of the controlled burn in February. I cannot tell you how many visitors have mentioned this to me themselves, noticing how different it looks here or picking out a specific species or two they found now.
That beast is Sphecius speciosus, a cicada killer, and it is definitely as large as it appears. It can be found in a variety of habitats, maybe even your yard. From what I hear they do not sting unless you are handling them harshly, so that's a plus. I think I will leave it to others to test out that theory, though. Netting dragonflies and butterflies is enough bug fun for me.
Photo © Scott Kruitbosch and not to be reproduced without explicit permission