These insects owe their name to the short golden hairs that cover the thorax and head.
They have black antennae and orange or golden brown wings. The legs are orange, except for the coxa, the part nearest the body, which is black. Great golden digger wasps have a narrow waist and a bi-coloured abdomen: orange-red in front and black behind. Their total length is 15 to 27 mm, and males are slightly smaller than females.