Mating pair of western cicada killers Sphecius grandis, photographed by Chuck Holliday.

Belongs within: Bembicidae.

Sphecius, cicada killers, is a cosmopolitan genus of large ground-nesting wasps of which the North American species S. speciosus is known to provision its nests with cicadas of the genus Tibicen (Bohart & Menke 1976).

Characters (from Bohart & Menke 1976): Large wasps, some attaining a length of more than 35 mm; inner eye margins converging slightly to strongly below; mandible with an inner subtooth; labrum prominent, exposed part often half as long as broad; antenna long, gradually enlarged toward apex but not obviously clubbed, last four articles in male not specially modified in contrast to other articles; impressed median line on frons often weak or incomplete; pronotal collar thin and closely appressed to scutum; female foretarsal rake weakly developed, fore basitarsus with three or more stout setae before apex; female arolia about equal in size; posterolateral oblique scutal carina present; prescutellar sulcus foveate: episternal-scrobal sulcus curved backward around hypoepimeron, scrobal sulcus not continued forward toward omaulus which is distinct; sternaulus absent; acetabular carina present in Palaearctic species; metapleuron gradually or hardly narrowed below; scutellum overlapping metanotum; fore wing with media diverging before cu-a; stigma unusually small; veinlet of submarginal cell II between recurrents short; hindwing media diverging well before cu-a, jugal lobe considerably larger than tegula; midtibia with two apical spurs; propodeal enclosure large, extensively vertical as well as horizontal; no spiracular groove; metasoma stout, tergum I broad; male with seven terga normally visible, sterna without fimbriae, sternum VIII sting-like or sword-shaped; female pygidial plate flat, sharply margined, closely punctate.

<==Sphecius Dahlbom 1843 C85
    |--S. (Sphecius) [incl. Hogardia Lepeletier 1845] BM76
    |    |--S. (S.) speciosus (Drury 1773) (see below for synonymy) BM76
    |    |--S. (S.) convallis Patton 1879 [incl. S. raptor Handlirsch 1889] BM76
    |    |--S. (S.) grandis (Say 1823) (see below for synonymy) BM76
    |    |--S. (S.) hogardii (Latreille 1809) [=Stizus hogardii; incl. *Hogardia rufescens Lepeletier 1845] BM76
    |    |    |--S. h. hogardii BM76
    |    |    `--S. h. bahamas Krombein 1875 BM76
    |    `--S. (S.) spectabilis (Taschenberg 1875) [=Stizus spectabilis] BM76
    |         |--S. s. spectabilis BM76
    |         `--S. s. nobilis Brèthes 1910 BM76
    |--S. (Nothosphecius Pate 1936) C85
    |    |--S. (*N.) grandidieri Saussure 1887 C85 [=Stizus grandidieri BM76; incl. Sp. freyi Handlirsch 1892 BM76]
    |    |--S. (N.) citrinus Arnold 1929 BM76
    |    |--S. (N.) malayanus Handlirsch 1895 BM76
    |    |--S. (N.) milleri Turner 1915 BM76
    |    |    |--S. m. milleri BM76
    |    |    `--S. m. aurantiacus Arnold 1940 BM76
    |    `--S. (N.) pectoralis (Smith 1856) [=Stizus pectoralis] C85
    `--S. (Sphecienus Patton 1879) BM76
         |--S. (*S.) nigricornis (Dufour 1838) [=Stizus nigricornis] BM76
         |--S. (S.) antennatus (Klug 1845) [=Larra antennata; incl. Stizus aberrans Eversmann 1849] BM76
         |    |--S. a. antennatus BM76
         |    `--S. a. impressus Kokujev 1910 BM76
         |--S. (S.) claripennis Morice 1911 BM76
         |--S. (S.) conicus (Germar 1817) [=Stizus conicus; incl. St. luniger Eversmann 1849] BM76
         |    |--S. c. conicus BM76
         |    |--S. c. creticus Beaumont 1965 BM76
         |    `--S. c. syriacus (Klug 1845) [=Larra syriaca] BM76
         |--S. (S.) hemixanthopterus Morice 1911 BM76
         |--S. (S.) intermedius Handlirsch 1895 BM76
         |--S. (S.) nigricornis (Dufour 1838) [=Stizus nigricornis] BM76
         |--S. (S.) percussor Handlirsch 1889 BM76
         |--S. (S.) persa Gussakovskij 1934 BM76
         |--S. (S.) schulthessi Roth 1951 BM76
         |--S. (S.) turanicus Roth 1959 BM76
         `--S. (S.) uljanini (Radoszkowski 1877) [=Stizus uljanini; incl. St. terminus Kirby 1889] BM76

Sphecius (Sphecius) grandis (Say 1823) [=Stizus grandis; incl. St. fervidus Cresson 1872, St. nevadensis Cresson 1874] BM76

Sphecius (Sphecius) speciosus (Drury 1773) [=Sphex speciosus; incl. *Sphecius speciosus Dahlbom 1843 non Sphex speciosus Drury 1773, Vespa tricincta Fabricius 1775, Stizus vespiformis Latreille 1818 non Sphex vespiformis Fabricius 1775] BM76

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BM76] Bohart, R. M., & A. S. Menke. 1976. Sphecid Wasps of the World. University of California Press: Berkeley.

[C85] Cardale, J. C. 1985. Vespoidea and Sphecoidea. In: Walton, D. W. (ed.) Zoological Catalogue of Australia vol. 2. Hymenoptera: Formicoidea, Vespoidea and Sphecoidea pp. 150–303. Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.

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