Currently viewing the category: "Wasps and Hornets"
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Subject: Costa Rica wasp or hornet with really painful sting
Location: Manzanillo, Costa Rica (small town on the southern Caribbean side)
June 1, 2016 12:46 am
Dear Sir,
Currently I am on a holiday in Costa Rica. Unfortunately today I bumped head first into a nest of black wasps or hornets, by accident. I have been stung in my head a dozen times and it was extremely painful. The nest was hanging underneath a tree on the beach of Manzanillo. I jumped in the water. The bugs died after the sting and left their piercer behind. The piercer was hard and light yellow. I think I managed to get them all out, but it is difficult to tell since the stings are in my hair. So now I am wondering: what are those little devils from hell and how dangerous are the stings? Do I need to get medical attention? I do not think I am allergic (it happend 10 hours ago and I am still not really swollen) but it still hurts a lot. Thank you very much in advance for your time!
Signature: Unlucky tourist

Wasp

Wasp

Dear Unlucky Tourist,
Though your insect sure appears to be a Wasp, we are not aware of any Wasps that lose their stingers upon stinging.  That is a characteristic of Bee stings.  According to the Boston Globe:  “For a bee, a sting is all or nothing; the bee loses its stinger and injects a relatively large volume of venom — typically about 50 micrograms.  A wasp, which retains its stinger, injects from 2 to 15 micrograms — but it can do it many times.”  The nest is that of a social Wasp, and unlike solitary Wasps that are relatively docile, social Wasps will defend the nest.  We believe we may have discovered the identity of your Wasps.  In Discover Magazine we found an article entitled “Stung” that states:  “One morning not long ago, an American entomologist named Justin Schmidt was making his way up the winding road to the Monteverde cloud forest in Costa Rica when he spotted Parachartergus fraternus, social wasps known both for the sculptured architecture of their hives and the ferocity with which they defend them.”  Then we found an article on America Pink that states:  “For a wasp species, Parachartergus fraternus is average in size. A typical
Parachartergus fraternus forager is about 11 mm long, 3 mm wide across its thorax, and weighs about 0.05 g.”  The Sting of the Wild does not describe the sting, but rather the ability of the wasps to spray venom.

Wasp Nest

Wasp Nest

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your response. It is strange that they lost their stinger. I am questioning right now if it was in fact their stinger, or maybe the venom had some reaction with the sea water and turned hard? I most certainly pulled something hard out of every sting. It remains a mystery. I do not know if they sprayed any venom since it all went so fast. Hopefully this information might help you in the future with similar cases. Thanks so much!
Best regards,
Renske Anna

Wasp

Wasp

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Never saw this one
Location: Pennsylvania
May 31, 2016 5:10 pm
Hey bugman,
My son happened to find this interesting looking flying bug. It was buzzing along the grass. Not sure if it was injured. Any idea?
Signature: Sincerely, Mike from Philly

Ichneumon

Female Stump Stabber, missing her ovipositor

Dear Mike from Philly,
We can tell you that this is a parasitic Ichneumon Wasp, but we are having trouble conclusively identifying it to the species level, so we have contacted Eric Eaton and explained out doubts.  The yellow antennae and shape of the abdomen rule out a male
Megarhyssa atrata which is pictured on BugGuide and Beetles in the Bush, and all the examples of  Therion morio on BugGuide have black heads.  What this Ichneumon looks most like to us is a female Stump Stabber, Megarhyssa atrata, but with a missing ovipositor, a condition we could not really explain.  See this BugGuide image for comparison.  We will get back to you when we hear from Eric Eaton.

Ichneumon

Maimed Female Stump Stabber

Definitely agree with you that it closely resembles the female stump stabbed after doing a little more research on the Internet.  But why no ovipositor? Can it become disconnected when/after laying its eggs? Could a bird have eaten just that part of it? Hopefully Mr.  Eaton has an idea.
Thank you so much for responding to me.  Can’t wait to tell my son.  Keep me posted.

Eric Eaton Confirms our suspicions
Daniel:
This is a *female* M. atrata that has lost her ovipositor.  Sometimes they get “stuck” while in operation, and/or the wasp needed to flee a potential predator.  I have frequently found ovipositors lodged in logs or stumps, the wasp having been consumed by a predator while in the act of laying eggs.
Eric

Thanks for the confirmation Eric.
I have heard that sometimes the females get stuck while ovipositing and cannot withdraw, dying in the act.  Is that also true?
Daniel

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
European Paper Wasp and California Mantidling

European Paper Wasp and California Mantidling

Subject:  Paper Wasp and California Mantid Nymph found among the primrose plants
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
May 30, 2016 6:30 PM
We were out working in the yard on Memorial Day and we noticed a Paper Wasp in the genus
Polistes resting on a tall primrose stalk, so we decided to take a few images to identify the species.  Well, as often happens in the garden, we got distracted and we remembered as the light was beginning to wane.  Upon returning, much to our glee, we found a young California Mantid on the same stalk.  The Mantid has more than doubled in size since we first discovered hatchlings back in early April.  We couldn’t help but to be amused that in a few more months, the Paper Wasp might have to worry about becoming a meal for the Mantid.  We are relatively certain that the wasp is a European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula, which we identified on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “An introduced species from Eurasia, often mistaken for a yellow jacket. First reported in North America by G.C. Eickwort in 1978 near Boston, Massachusetts.  There are reports of it replacing native species of wasps in some areas” which may be a problem as it has spread throughout much of North America in less than forty years, according to BugGuide.

European Paper Wasp

European Paper Wasp

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Ant ? Wasp?
Location: Rancho Santa Margarita ca
May 27, 2016 8:00 pm
I found this today when I was doing some planting in my backyard. I’ve never seen anything like this but we get odd creatures all the time. I’m glad I found your site so I can get help identifying some of these that I find. The white contrast with the black legs was so striking! Not knowing what it is I kept my dog, who found it, away. Should I be concerned about more showing up?
Signature: Curious critter finder

Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

Dear Curious critter finder,
This is both an Ant and a Wasp.  Your female, flightless Wasp in the family Mutillidae is commonly called a Velvet Ant, so she is an Ant by name and a Wasp by classification, though for even more clarification, both Wasps and Ants are classified together in the Order Hymenoptera.  Velvet Ants are not aggressive, but they are very active and purposeful, and they will defend themselves with a very painful sting should you or your dog bother one with an exposed body part.  We are going to make your sighting the Bug of the Month for June 2016.  We have had the Cow Killer, a common Velvet Ant from the eastern portion of North America featured in the past as the Bug of the Month in August 2012, but this time we want to feature the diverse Velvet Ants found in the southwest.  Many Velvet Ants sport aposomatic or warning coloration, often red or orange and black, to advertise their painful stings.  This particular individual, which may be
Dasymutilla sackeni, is well represented on BugGuide with individuals from California.

Velvet Ant

Velvet Ant

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What Kind of Bug is this?
Location: Suburbs of Chicago
May 27, 2016 6:01 pm
I am a student photographer and as an assignment I am to photograph nature and then explain my pictures. I took about 100 pictures (manual and automatic, color and black and white). After looking online no one in my family can identify this bug. It seems to not be using its 5th and 6th legs and it isn’t flying, maybe a wing is broken.
Signature: Autumn

Braconid, we believe

Unknown Ichneumon

Dear Autumn,
We do not yet have a species identification, but we have determined that your parasitic Wasp must be in the superfamily Ichneumonoidea, which according to BugGuide has only two families, the Braconids and the Ichneumons.  Our money was originally on this being a female Braconid, but our browsing through both families on BugGuide did not produce species that even looks similar.  We are posting your request as Unidentified and we hope it does not remain so tagged for long.

Ichneumon, possibly

Unknown Ichneumon

Eric Eaton Responds
Hi, Daniel:
Definitely an ichneumon, and pretty, but I have no idea which one.  Sorry!
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What the … Is this?
Location: Maryland USA
May 24, 2016 7:54 pm
I’ve seen wasps and crane flies. This seems to be closer to a wasp. When I tried to be sparing and set it free it attempted to sting me numerous times while not being able to break the skin it seems. It got back inside and brought family ( see photo 2) there does seem to be a stinger on them. I did in fact kill them both. Only get one shot in my house unless your a spider, then you get none. Anyways, do you have any idea of what this is? If you have some photo reference if greatly appreciate it. Thanks!
Signature: Chris Joy

Ichneumons

Ichneumons

Dear Chris,
We are very curious about your mini-guillotine, because we cannot fathom how you have managed to kill these two Ichneumon Wasps by removing their heads but otherwise leaving their bodies intact.  Most wasps in the family Ichneumonidae, probably the largest family on earth with the most individual species, are perfectly harmless, but members of the subfamily Ophioninae is capable of stinging.  According to BugGuide:  “Females have a very compressed abdomen and a short, very sharp ovipositor. The ovipositor can penetrate the human skin; most other ichneumons can’t ‘sting’.”  BugGuide also notes:  “Most species are crepuscular or nocturnal, some diurnal. They are known to come to lights.”  These Ichnuemons are solitary, and they did not conspire together to enter your home.  We suspect they were attracted to lights.  When folks write to us about stinging Crane Flies, we suspect they have confused them with members of this subfamily.

Dear Daniel,
I appreciate your response. That was what I suspected them to be. As far as mini guillotine, well the answer there is just an old fashion credit card and hitting them before they could fly away that simple. But thank you for answering my question I know you all are busy and I’m glad you had the time to respond.
VR
Chris

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination