Currently viewing the category: "Wasps and Hornets"
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Subject: Male & female Giant Ichneumon Wasps
Location: Naperville, IL
September 22, 2013 9:27 pm
Hi Daniel~
I spotted these male and female Giant Ichneumon wasps hanging out on a dead river birch tree when the female began to oviposit directly into the exit hole of what I assumed was a pigeon horntail wasp. I did find the remains of the lower half of a pigeon horntail, its ovipositor stuck firmly into the same tree. It appeared as if the Ichneumon’s ovipositor separated into three sections; all three went into the hole, but only the longer, blacker section remained inside the hole throughout the process. I thought that Ichneumon wasps drilled directly into dead wood after echo-locating a pigeon horntail larva, but perhaps she was using the inside of the exit hole as a starting point. It was fascinating to watch!
All the best,
Signature: Dori Eldridge

Stump Stabber

Stump Stabber ovipositing

Hi Dori,
We love the common name Stump Stabbers for Giant Ichneumons in the genus
Megarhyssa.  We believe your individuals are Megarhyssa macrurus.

Male Giant Ichnuemon

Male Giant Ichnuemon

Update:  April 8, 2014
We are frequently asked if Giant Ichneumons can sting, and we always reply that they cannot.  We just found a fascinating article.  According to Icheumon Wasps by Lloyd Eighme on Skagit.wsu:  “It might frighten you, but if you could watch it long enough you would be amazed at what it does. It lands on the bark of a tree and crawls up and down, tapping with its long antennae, obviously searching for something. Eventually it finds the spot it is looking for and begins to drill into the bark with its long needle-like ovipositor. It has detected the larva of a horntail wasp chewing its tunnel in the wood an inch or more below the surface of the bark. The ovipositor is made up of three stiff threads, hardened by minerals, that fit together with a groove in the center. Vibrating those sharppointed threads forces them into the bark and sapwood of the tree to contact the horntail grub in its tunnel. An egg is forced down the ovipositor to parasitize the grub. If the ichneumon parasite larva killed its host, they would both die, trapped in the solid wood which the parasite is unable to chew. It only feeds on the nonvital organs like the fat body until its host has nearly completed its life cycle and has chewed its way out near the surface of the bark. Then it kills and consumes its host grub and completes its own life cycle to emerge as another giant ichneumon wasp in the genus Megarhyssa (mega=large; rhyssa=tail) to start over again. You can see both Megarhyssa and its horntail wasp host in the MG collection.
People often ask if the ichneumon wasps will sting them with their needle-like ovipositors. The wasps are interested only in laying eggs in caterpillars or other insects, but if you handle a live one it may try to sting you in self-defense. Small ones could not likely penetrate your skin, but larger ones might be able to

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: is this a spider or an ant?
Location: Covington, ga
September 15, 2013 1:48 pm
my husband says ant, I say spider
Signature: felicia

Cow Killer

Cow Killer

Hi Felicia,
This is neither a spider nor an ant, so neither of you is correct, however, if points are awarded for closeness, your husband would be the winner.  This is a Cow Killer,
Dasymutilla occidentalis, and it is a flightless female wasp in the family Mutilidae.  Ants and Wasps are classified in the same order, Hymenoptera, and the common name of the members of the family Mutilidae is Velvet Ant, so your husband has the proximity of the order as well as the common name of the family.  Cow Killers get their common name because of the alleged pain of the sting they deliver.  It is said to be painful enough to kill a cow, however, a cow would not directly die from the sting.  We have heard that stung cows will sometimes run, and it is possible they might run into a ditch where they might break their necks or run into a road where they might get hit by a truck.  At any rate, you should not try to handle a Cow Killer, which we have included in our Big 5 tag.

Hi Daniel
Thank you! I did some research after I emailed you and found out what it was. I have a child who is completing a “bug project” and seemingly we are finding all types of bugs. I am exited about bugs, I feel as if I should have become an entomologist :o)
Thanks you for your labor of love, your response is very much appreciated!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: unknown parasite of Acronicta oblinita
Location: Marsh in Salamonie Reservoir, NE Indiana
September 12, 2013 7:30 am
Bugman,
On Aug. 24 you helped my mother identify the Smartweed Caterpillar / Smeared Dagger Moth (Acronicta oblinita) that I found on a Rose Milkweed (Ascelpias incarnata) in a marsh. I collected another from a willow branch and brought it home. It stopped moving completely and even starting spinning a strange web. To my wife’s horror, dozens of small yellow parasites slowly emerged from its side as it was still (apparently?) alive. They all seemed to perish in the hot sun and the ants had a feast. Photo attached.
I searched Google Scholar for some clues…
I see a 1903 reference to a ”Rhogas rileyi Cress” being parasitic, mentioning the silk I saw (p. 24 here: http://bit.ly/1atDh3W). However, I cannot find R. rileyi Cress in recent mention so I wonder if the name has been updated. I see a recent publication noting that the parasitic wasp Aleiodes rileyi Cresson often chooses A. oblinita as a host, but it did not seem to undergo the mummification described.
Signature: Adam Thada

Parasitized Smartweed Caterpillar

Parasitized Smartweed Caterpillar

Hi Adam,
We are very impressed with your research, but in our opinion, the parasites that emerged from the Smartweed Caterpillar look more like fly larvae to us, so with that in mind, we would lean more toward this being an instance of parasitization by Tachinid Fly.  We have not been able to uncover any evidence, and that is just our first impression.  Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck determining What Parasitized the Smartweed Caterpillar?

Parasitized Smartweed Caterpillar

Parasitized Smartweed Caterpillar

Comment courtesy of Erwin
Subject: What Parasitized the Smartweed Caterpillar???
December 13, 2013 5:45 am
Hi,
Going through some older posts I found one submitted on Sept.13, 2013 by Adam Thada. These parasites are Braconidae for sure. Braconidae (genus Apanteles and others) are well known as parasites of Acronycta caterpillars.
Here you can see as an example larvae of Braconidae coming out of a caterpillar of Pieris sp.
(Please scroll down)
Signature: Erwin Beyer

Hi Erwin,
Your comment was written as though you provided a link by indicating to “scroll down”.  We did not get the link.

Subject: here is the link
December 13, 2013 9:04 am
Dear Daniel,
here is the required link: http://www.ingana.de/html_insekten/hymenoptera/hymenoptera-hautfluegler-wespen-schlupfwespen.html
Signature: Erwin Beyer

The Braconids in the link you provided look exactly like the ones submitted to us.  Thanks Erwin.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wasp?
Location: Central PA
September 10, 2013 2:59 pm
This insect shows up on our covered back porch above the door at night only after the porch light had been on for awhile. I never see them during the day. I believe they live behind the porch light. They are about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 inches long. My wife thinks they are cicada killers, but I believe they might be scarab hunter wasps. They seem pretty docile and have never stung anyone. I do have a sting allergy and have some reservations about using this door at night. Anyone light you can shed on this would be very much appreciated.
Signature: Rick Davis

European Hornets

European Hornets

Dear Rick,
These are European Hornets, an introduced species that might be negatively impacting native species by preying upon them and displacing them in the food chain.  They might have a nest in the attic.  We have read on BugGuide that they are attracted to lights, so your letter is evidence that is correct.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for the quick reply.  You certainly nailed this one.  According to the literature you referenced, the nest will move on after the queen dies.  (I made a small donation to your site.)  Thanks again.
Rick

That was very kind of your Rick.  Thanks for the support.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Cicada killer with prey
Location: Roe, Monroe County, Arkansas
September 10, 2013 8:33 am
Thought I’d share this lucky shot with my cell phone camera! Taken 10:15 AM 9/10/2013 in Monroe County, AR. I was sitting on my porch enjoying the sunshine, and saw something fall from the tree. I was thrilled to watch this cicada killer drag her prey up the tree, where she paused above my hammock rope long enough for me to take a picture.
Signature: Sherry Young

Cicada Killer and Prey

Cicada Killer and Prey

Hi Sherry,
We believe this is the only photo of a Cicada Killer and her prey we have received this year.  Cicada Killers often drag paralyzed Cicadas up a tree or other high spot because they can then glide and fly toward the underground nest.  It is very difficult to gain altitude from the ground with such a heavy load.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: orange caterpillar
Location: Seward, AK
September 8, 2013 11:01 pm
Hi! My son found this caterpillar crawling on the ground in front of our porch. We have looked a little bit online, and can’t seem to find what kind of caterpillar it is. Can you help?
Signature: Cdean

Elm Sawfly Larva

Elm Sawfly Larva

Hi Cdean,
This is the larva of an Elm Sawfly,
Cimbex americana, and they are frequently mistaken for caterpillars.  Sawflies are actually classified in the order Hymenoptera with bees and wasps, though they do not sting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination