Distributed across most of the contiguous United States and northern Mexico. During the late 20th century, its range expanded north to New York and the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.
Adult females of S. pensylvanicus build an underground nest which they provision with various orthopteran insects, particularly of the genera Microcentrum, Amblycorypha and Scudderia. Prey are stung three times, once in the neck and twice in the thorax, and are paralyzed by the wasp’s sting, although they can survive for weeks. The prey are then carried to the nest. While collecting their prey, the females are vulnerable to kleptoparasitism, in which birds, including the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) and the grey catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), steal the prey that the wasp has collected