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