Giant 3-4' dark brown bee/wasp-type insect in SW Ohio??

sharon_from_ohioJuly 31, 2010

Hi All, I'm hoping someone out there knows what this is because I can't find anything close to it anywhere online! I live in SW Ohio and I see these now and then. Sorry, too chicken to get close enough for a photo! It is a giant 3-4" flying insect that resembles a bee - body is NOT segmented, but rather torpedo shaped - I'd say about 1/2" diameter. The insect appears slightly fuzzy like a bee. It flys around acting just like a wasp, looking at heat pump, windows, vents, etc. - hovers, lands, shoots off flying away. It doesn't appear to be interested in me at all but I'm not taking any chances!! It is dark brown in color and doesn't appear to have any special markings. I usually see them late afternoon and early evening when the sun is out and it's the warmest. What the heck is it?

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Could possibly be a Cicada Killer, they just started showing up about a week to ten days ago here in Michigan. They are pretty good size as they kill and carry Cicadas to their nest. Have you seen any large holes around the area with large amounts of sand around it? if so thats your insect.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cicada Killer google search

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 8:55AM
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No, they aren't cicada killers. They don't have a hard shell body like that and don't have distinct markings - in fact, no yellow at all. But my boyfriend saw another one and did confirm that it has faint stripes all around its fuzzy body. But all of the insect is brown/dark brown - maybe even black. But definitely no yellow! The body really is cigar-shaped or torpedo shaped - no defining wasp abdomen or anything. And they are HUGE!! I seriously have spent hours online looking at pictures and reading descriptions of flying bee/wasp/hornet like insects and don't see anything even close to it!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 3:30PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

See if it's not an adult Cicada.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 11:22PM
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No, it's not a cicada. There are lots of them out right now, but this isn't one of them. Cicadas look kind of bulbous and to me kind of beetle/grashopper like with big weird faces... this guy looks like an enormous bee or hornet with a long body that is all one width from beginning to end (doesn't even look like head is much larger than body, if at all). I sure wish I were brave enough to get a photo!! He's like an enormous dragonfly that acts like a wasp and looks like a bee! eek!!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 6:22AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

When you get a picture, let me know.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 10:53PM
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I'm wondering if it might be a sphinx moth or hummingbird moth. You might try and search on those terms and see what you think.
Good luck! Tucker

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 9:29PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Tucker, that's a darned good guess! I should have thought of that. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if that's exactly what it is.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 11:17PM
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Chances are 9 out of 10 you are seeing a brown carpenter bee. They are quite large, even bigger than a bumblebee. The tip off is its interest in dark crevices. It is looking for a place to bore a nest hole. They are solitary bees and good pollinators. They almost never sting.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 7:59AM
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Hi again! I just checked back to see if anyone else had any other ideas... wow - people are still trying to figure out my bug... cool! :))) I haven't seen him lately but I can't say that is a bad thing either. He scares me!! It is definitely not a carpenter bee... we have those all over the place too and this guy is MUCH larger than a carpenter bee and not as squat and bumblebee looking. He does slightly resemble the sphinx moth - that is close to his shape (although my guy seems to be more elongated like a dragonfly) - but not his coloring/markings. He really doesn't have distinct markings. From a distance of about 10 feet (as close as I was willing to get) he looked all brown to me. It was only when my boyfriend got closer that he saw the faint striped markings on his body. Well, I know it is nearly impossible for you all to identify something you can't see - but no promises on the photo if he comes back around... he is so scary!!!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 5:51PM
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Click link and go to the website.
Be sure to click on the individual photos to see a larger version, especially the image that shows a number of "variants" of the species (properly pinned and framed).

Here is a link that might be useful: Sphynx moth (and other aka)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 2:36PM
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I live in sw Ohio myself and have something like I have been reading about on here as well. It's got a wasp or hornet body and the wings are like dragon flys size. Never seen anything like this. Can't find anything like it online. I call it a reddish orangy brown color. Please if you know what they are let me know.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Here's my second try - although I've never seen one quite as large as you describe, the rest of the description sounds like a horntail, a sort of woodboring wasp. Check the link below and see what you think.

Here is a link that might be useful: Horntails

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 7:28PM
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The fact that you mention a fuzzy body leads me to agree with the hummingbird moth or snowberry clearwing, which are very similar looking. They both have torpedo shaped bodies and clear wings like big wasps. I have never seen them except hovering and flying around flowers for nectar but I was out photographing flowers so I have only come across them under those circumstances.
here are a couple of links:

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 3:20AM
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It is definitely one of the moth species mentioned earlier. I live in SW Ohio on the west side of Cincinnati and have seen the same moth. I wish I could take a photo but it never stayed still and my camera is older. I have photographed other moths and wildlife for my website. There are no wasps, hornets or bees that large, so dragonflies and moths are your next choice, based on your description. You can look at moth identification guides to find the right species if you have not already made an ID from the listed websites in the earlier posts. What is the town or area you are in ? Locations of species sightings are often recorded. Sites like Butterflies and Moths of North America will record the location reported but that site has photos with the reports.

Here is a link that might be useful: Butterflies and Moths of North America

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 7:25PM
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Hey Sharon I know exactly what you are talking about! I'm on the west side of Cincinnati and noticing them too...defiantly not a moth which someone had suggested. Will try and see if I can take a pic the next couple of days too...

I'm seeing a large flying bug approx 2 inch. The first half is brown and the bottom part is black and white fuzzy bumble bee type but longer and skinner than a bumble bee, is this the same this you are seeing?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 8:18PM
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I was told by a coworker that this is a type of hornet and they are very mean!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 9:48PM
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Could it be a type of Robber fly?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 8:51AM
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Could this be it?

Seen hovering at a Butterfly bush

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 4:22PM
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As seen in the photo above by GimpyGardener, this is a moth. More than likely, it is a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth. It is hard to tell from the photo. Bees, wasps and flies do not get even close to this size. You can look up the largest species in the country or this state on the web if you want to know more. People who made posts above thinking the insect was a hornet, fly or something like that have no knowledge of insects and should not be posting answers just by guessing. Also, if they read the original post by Sharon from Ohio then they would have seen that she said it was 3 to 4 inches. No wasp, be or fly is anywhere near that size in the region. As I said in an earlier post, along with a couple other people, it is a moth. The photo shows exactly what I have been saying.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 8:39PM
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