What "wasp" is killing butterflies

Asked August 15, 2019, 5:12 PM EDT

I'll attach several photos of a "wasp" killing a butterfly. This is the third that I witnessed over the last three weeks. The first two were epic struggles between the two insects, with the tiger swallowtail eventually freeing itself from the "wasp's" grasp and escaping. the second tiger swallowtail lost its rough and tumble battle with the "wasp" in my tomato patch. This afternoon I saw a "wasp" apparently chowing down on the remains of a black "swallowtail" and was able to get several photos, which I'll attach. Originally I thought the aggressors were cicada killers, but they weren't quite the right length. Today's "wasp," however, doesn't seem to be the right color for a cicada killer (of which we have many burrows within 100 feet of the garden phlox 'Jeana' that attracts so many butterflies. Only wings are left after the attacks. Please ID the "wasp" if the photos are good enough. Thank you

Howard County Maryland insect or spider id european hornet butterflies being eaten by hornets butterfly predation

1 Response

That is a European Hornet. You can read more about them here: https://www.extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/european-hornets

They eat many kinds of insects though most people only tend to notice them as they commonly eat sap from lilac branches in late summer.
We seem to have a bumper crop of swallowtail butterflies this year which is wonderful to see and experience, but it can be upsetting to watch their predation.