ADULT: These wasps have hard bodies with a greatly narrowed constriction between the thorax and abdomen. Bodies are various colors from dark metallic blue or black with yellow bands and patterns to yellow with brown patterns. Wings are often translucent, but tinted to match the body color and have several to many closed cells. Their ovipositor is retractable and is often not visible at rest. Adults range in size from 9/16 to over 2 in.

EGG: Female deposits eggs in prepared cells of paper, mud or excavated soil nests.

LARVA: Whitish, legless, grub-like larvae feed on food supplied by adult within a protective cell.

PUPA: Larvae pupate within their paper, mud or sub-soil cells. Solitary wasps spin a silken cocoon; social wasps spin silk across the opening of their paper cell.

HABITS: Adults capture mostly spiders and caterpillars. Social wasps generally chew up their prey into "meatballs" to bring back and feed to larvae at the nest. Solitary wasps provision a cell built of mud or excavated in the soil with anesthetized prey before depositing an egg and sealing the cell. These wasps can consume a large number of caterpillars and keep gardens relatively clean of many such pests.