Currently viewing the category: "Horntails, Wood Wasps and Sawflies"
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Subject: What is this insect that stung my daughter?
Location: SE Michigan
January 2, 2015 8:59 pm
I have never seen an insect like this before. I assume it is some kind of bee, although the shape is all wrong. It stung my daughter’s hand back in September and she had a horrible reaction for several days. She ended up being given an epi-pen for future stings. It was hanging around our back deck; we live in southeast Michigan, a little north of Detroit. I tried searching on google, both for websites and doing an image search, to no avail. I’d love if you could help identify it!
Signature: Sharon in Michigan

Pigeon Horntail

Pigeon Horntail

Dear Sharon,
We are very interested in your report.  This is a Pigeon Horntail, a species of Wood Wasp.  We generally advise our readership that though they appear to possess a stinger, they are harmless as the stinger is actually an ovipositor used to lay eggs.  When in the act of oviposition, the female Pigeon Horntail inserts her ovipositor into wood to lay the egg beneath the surface.  Since it can penetrate wood, it would seem to indicate that the ovipositor might also penetrate human skin, though we believe incidents like that are extremely rare.

Wow, thank you so much for this information, it’s quite fascinating.  Clearly she must have been stung by something else – in fact, in further questioning my kids, they clarified that they had never said that was the insect that did so, just that it was around at the same time and they thought it was interesting-looking and unfamiliar.  Wish I knew what HAD gotten her, but oh well!
Thanks again for your prompt response!
Sharon

Thanks for that update Sharon.  We will continue to advise our readers that Pigeon Horntails are harmless.

Jackie Lavoie Hibbard, Sue Dougherty, Matt Meehan, Christy Harris liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Identifying
Location: Edmonds, WA
December 13, 2014 12:19 pm
Dearest Bugman,
I have lived in western Washington for 43 years. I have never seen this bug before. It was caught in a spiderweb and already dead. I have kept it in a plastic container since late summer DYING to know what it is. Can you help please?
Thanks so much,
Signature: Catherine

Wood Wasp

Wood Wasp

Dear Catherine,
This impressive female Wood Wasp or Horntail might be
Urocerus albicornis, which you can find pictured on BugGuide.  Though the antennae are missing, and we cannot say for certain that your individual had white antennae while living, and though the white “cheeks” are not apparent in your image, the distinctively striped legs are nicely illustrated, and that feature helped us to narrow the identification possibilities.

Wood Wasp

Wood Wasp

Sue Dougherty liked this post
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Subject: Caterpillar swarm in Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica higher elevation
October 31, 2014 9:12 am
These caterpillars(?) appear seasonally in the higher elevations in Costa Rica. (1500m/5000′ MSL). They are 3-4″ long and appear to burrow as a group in the ground (in our yard and surrounding farmlands).
We don’t know what they are (or whether they are a problem?) but they have a marvelous locomotion. They crawl on top of each other for awhile, then they all pause as if catching their breath, then resume. This video was taken on the road outside our house.
What are they and do they benefit or damage the plants and animals?
Signature: Bugged in Costa Rica

Sawfly Larva

Sawfly Larva

Dear Bugged in Costa Rica,
We do not believe these are Caterpillars.  We believe they are Sawfly Larvae, relatives of wasps and bees.  There are Australian Sawfly Larvae known as Spitfires that look similar.

Aggregation of Sawfly Larvae

Aggregation of Sawfly Larvae

Andrea Leonard Drummond, Nacho Gamboa liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this bug?! Mutated wasp?!?! Please help!
Location: Windsor, ON Canada
October 27, 2014 12:49 am
Hi there! I’m from Windsor, ON Canada and I was raking leaves in my front yard today and this peculiar, very big and scary bug had landed on my arm. I immediately jumped and swatted it off and it landed on a leaf at my feet… My sister and I took a closer look because it appeared to be stunned or discombobulated so we took the opportunity to snap some photos and examine it. I have never seen a bug such as this, it looks like a mutated wasp and it bothers me to think there are more out there like this… I’m confused because it is now autumn and chilly where I live and most of the bees and wasps are no longer flying around for the season. I would really like to know what bug this is! It appeared to have a stinger, as well as some sort of tail? It did have black and yellow alternating stripes, long yellow legs and it was around 2 inches I would say.
Signature: Thanks so much!! -Sonia

Pigeon Horntail

Pigeon Horntail

Dear Sonia,
This Pigeon Horntail, which is sometimes called a Wood Wasp, is related to wasps, though Pigeon Horntails do not sting.  The female Pigeon Horntail uses her ovipositor to deposit eggs in dead and dying trees.

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Subject: Catapillar identification
Location: Rochdale-manchester-England
September 27, 2014 6:09 am
At home I have at least half a dozen catapillars and am feeding them apple at the moment but I am unsure of the species that the catapillar is;consequent not being able to feed them ther favourite food.if you can reply as soon as that would be fantastic so I can understand what to feed them :) also the catapillar has an orange tail and blue body with a black and orange head ,it also has random black spots speckled over its body
Signature: Alex:L

Gooseberry Sawfly Larva

Willow Sawfly Larva

Dear Alex:L,
Though it looks like a caterpillar, this is not a caterpillar, but rather a Sawfly Larva.  We believe we may have correctly identified it as a Gooseberry Sawfly Larva,
Nematus ribesii, thanks to this image on FlickR.  According to DownGardenServices:  “The caterpillar-like larva is light green with black dots and a shiny, black head. If disturbed it clings to the edge of the leaf while bending into a S-shape. All of the leaves can disappear with only the stalks and a few veins remaining. Check any leaves beyond them and the larvae will be there, so they can be rubbed off.  The lack of foliage weakens the bush and it produces a very poor crop the following year.”  An even closer match is the Willow Sawfly, , which is pictured on PBase and Wikimedia Commons.

 

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Subject: Large wood boring bug with oviduct
Location: Syracuse in
September 1, 2014 12:19 pm
We found this large black an yellow striped winged bug with oviduct …any thoughts
Signature: Mary b

Pigeon Horntail

Pigeon Horntail

Hi Mary,
This is a Pigeon Horntail, a species of Wood Wasp.  The egg laying organ is an ovipositor.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination