Old Diary

The Ichneumon Wasp


We were taking in our usual evening walk recently at Highland Ridge when we came upon a sizable dead tree with a couple 2” diameter holes in the trunk, the holes extending back into the trunk some distance. On what remained of the bark I saw these critters.  2015080209272506 2015080209273709 2015080209274214

There were live specimens — in full color.  There were dead ones that had faded black.  I have never seen a wasp this size before.  From tip to tail some of them were nearly 7” long.   About 1/2 of that length was the ovipositor — the device the female uses to lay her eggs.  They look terrifying but didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence or my camera.

The eggs are laid on or near other insect eggs in the same tree.  When hatched the young will feed on the other insects first until they have reached flying stage. The wasps that you see here are the final adult stage of the insect; their lifespan (like the mayflies – or Shad Flies)  is quite short and they do not feed at all.

Giants like these stay away from cities and tend to be found only in deep forested woods.

The larvae are parasites of the Pigeon Horntail larvae, another tree-laying wasp.  They will feed on the horntail larvae.

This is truly a North American Insect. 

Thanks for stopping and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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