Currently viewing the category: "Parasitic Hymenopterans"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: WHAT ARE THESE THINGS!?
Location: Tampa, Florida
September 10, 2016 8:05 pm
Ok, so I am a little freaked out because I keep seeing these bugs suddenly and I have never seen them before. I have lived in Florida all of my life and suddenly in the last month or so, this bug keeps showing up. It doesn’t look so scary in the photo, but I will tell you that these bugs do not kill easily. And what I mean by that, is that I have to use a hammer smashing this bug into the tile floor to kill it. No amount of crushing it will kill it unless I use something like a hammer. That is freaking nuts! So yeah, they look kind of like a mosquito, but this thing is hard as a rock. The photo I am submitting makes this thing look like nothing has really happened to it and this was after using a hammer on it. Please help! I would really like to know what these things are and if I can take any measures to get them out of my house and out of my life!
Signature: Thank you!!!!

Ensign Wasp Carnage

Ensign Wasp Carnage

This is an Ensign Wasp, and we are going to unashamedly tag this posting as Unnecessary Carnage.  Ensign Wasps parasitize the oothecae or egg cases of Cockroaches, so we have to include them in the beneficial insects camp.  Large populations of Ensign Wasps in your home means that you must have Cockroaches to support the population.  If you prefer Cockroaches in your house to Ensign Wasps, then by all means, hammer away.

Thank you so much for getting back to me!
So I don’t need to worry about these bugs bitting me or anything?

Though we have always maintained that Ensign Wasps do not sting humans, we believe there is a comment somewhere on our site claiming that a sting occurred.  Suffice to say that they are NOT an aggressive species, though handling one might result in a sting.  They do NOT bite.  According to Owlcation:  “The Ensign Wasp (Evonia appendigaster) looks a bit like a black spider with wings. Many people, upon seeing one, might assume that it will sting, but in fact it is totally harmless.  The Ensign Wasp is actually a beneficial insect because it is a parasite of cockroaches and hunts for their egg-cases, which are known as oothecae. The female wasps lay their eggs in them and the wasp larvae eat the cockroach eggs.”  The Galveston County Master Gardeners website has a nice page devoted to beneficial species and stinging is NOT mentioned.

I can’t tell you how much this means to me to get this info.. It is my goal to live in harmony with the earth and its population, even those bugs that freak me out. I really wanted to call an exterminator, but I am thinking it is best to just leave things be. Is there a way for me to donate to you via paypal? Thank you again!
Andrea

That is very kind of you Andrea.  There is a Paypal link on our site.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mosquito
Location: Dayton Ohio
September 5, 2016 5:41 pm
Hello
On my way back from my daily run at the local hiking trail and this scary looking thing stuck to my windshield and didn’t move for quarter of a mile. I had to take a picture of it while driving but I was careful. But look at the stinger! I’ve never seen a mosquito quite like that.
This is sept. 6th in southwestern ohio
Signature: Nathan B.

Stump Stabber

Stump Stabber

Dear Nathan,
This is NOT a Mosquito.  It is a parasitic Giant Ichneumon wasp in the genus
Megarhyssa, and it is commonly called a Stump Stabber because the female uses her lengthy ovipositor to lay eggs beneath the bark of trees that are infested with wood boring larvae of Horntails, including the Pigeon Horntail.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Please can you tell me what this is?
Location: Dalby forest. England
August 13, 2016 8:50 am
Saw this in the summer in north east England in a dense forest.
Signature: Perplexed

Sabre Wasp

Sabre Wasp

Dear Perplexed,
This is a parasitoid Ichneumon, the Sabre Wasp,
Rhyssa persuasoria, in the act of ovipositing, and you can verify our identification on Bio Images.  According to Bug Life:  “Wood drillers Ichneumons often locate their host species by ‘smelling’ them and this is exactly what Sabre Wasps do. Female Sabre Wasps locate the wood-boring larvae of the huge and beautiful Horntail Wasp (Uroceris gigas) by using their antennae to detect scents that emanate from the larvae’s wooden tunnels.  When a female Sabre Wasp has located a promising site, she starts tapping on the surface of the wood with her antennae. She then uses her long egg-laying tail to drill a ‘probe’ hole. She may drill a few probe holes before deciding on an appropriate position, and then drills as deep as she can. After 30-60 minutes, if successful, she will breach the tunnel wall, sting the larvae and then lay an egg on its body. With the larvae paralysed by the sting, it awaits the inevitable demise of being consumed alive by the Sabre Wasp grub.”  Your image is gorgeous, and though we have many similar looking images of North American relatives called Stump Stabbers in the act of ovipositing, your image is the first European example we have of your Sabre Wasp in the act of laying eggs.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: parasitoid wasp
Location: Cochise County, AZ
August 1, 2016 10:15 am
Hello! The bug in the picture seems like a parasitoid wasp and I wonder what kind it is and what it is doing on the cadaver of a rat. It looks like it’s stinging the rat but it shouldn’t be laying eggs on it, right? Maybe feeding on small flies on it? The photo was taken March 8th, 2015. Thank you for your help!
Signature: Kana

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Dear Kana,
We are currently going back through requests sent in the past few weeks that we did not yet open, and we are awestruck at this image.  We agree it is a Parasitoid Wasp and that the host is likely the immature stage of a fly or beetle that is attracted to carrion.  We have not begun the research on this yet, but we did send your image to Eric Eaton to get his input as well.  We are posting it as unidentified and are going to immediately begin to do some research.  This is a very exciting posting for us and we hope to be able to identify the genus or species for you.  This is the kind of posting that validates our practice of going back a few weeks out of guilt to look at all the requests we have left unanswered.

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Upon doing a web search for “Braconid on Carrion” we found a Google Books online pdf from The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 43 that states:  “Few Hymenoptera are found in carrion; the commonest is a Braconid, Alysia manducator, which is parasitic upon both the Dipterous and Coleopterous larvae (cf. Marshall, Bracon, d’Europ., ii.377); I first took it on a foal at Brockenhurst in May and subsequently on a rabbit in June, also on a horse’s shin bone and a cow’s head in the same month.  An Ichneumonid, Atractodes bicolor, which may be hyperparasitic on the last species (cf. Morley, Ichn. Brit., i, 291 et ii) was taken in a rabbit in September, 1895, in a cow’s head at Lyndhurst in August and in a mole in June; its cousin, A. gilvipes, was once found in a rabbit early in June, 1903.  A second kind of Braconid (? Rhogas sp.) was taken in the same kind of animal at the end of September, 1899; and a third, Meteorus filator, in a rabbit in November. ”  All that is from an old English publication, but it does validate that there are Parasitoid Wasps that will search for hosts on carrion.  We searched BugGuide for the genus Atractodes, and worked backwards to the subfamily Cryptinae, and BugGuide states:  “Mostly external parasites of pupae and cocoons; a few attack wood-boring beetle larvae, others attack larvae of Diptera, a few are hyperparasites of braconids and other ichneumons.”  We similarly searched Alysia on BugGuide and back to the Tribe Alysiini on BugGuide where it states:  “Often in moist habitats and decaying substrates, where host larvae are likely to be found” and “Larvae are parasitoids that feed on larvae of cyclorrhaphous Diptera (advanced flies with short antennae).”  We followed other links and did not find anything that looks like your Parasitoid Wasp, but we know we are on the right track.

Eric Eaton responds
Daniel:
Interesting.  Definitely one of the colorful Braconidae, and she is certainly ovipositing on *something.*
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your reply!  I’m so excited to hear from you.  Your second email is very informative and answers my question why the wasp was on the carrion.  This is the first time I posted my photo on any public website and I’m glad I did.  Hope to hear from you with the species name and I really appreciate your time and effort.
Kana

Update from Kana:  August 23, 2016
Dear Daniel,
BugGuide had a photo of wasp very similar to mine and it was taken in my area:  http://bugguide.net/node/view/464251
They filed it under subfamily Agathidinae.  The only thing is that they say it hosts Lepidoptera larvae and it doesn’t explain why mine was on rat.  But thank you for your help!
Kana

Hi again Kana,
The BugGuide information “hosts: Lepidoptera larvae” is so general it might not apply to all members of the subfamily.  Some parasitic Hymenopterans are not well studied and many have mysterious life cycles.  The BugGuide information might also be wrong.  Thanks for the update.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Cool looking
Location: Michigan
August 11, 2016 4:29 pm
What is this thing in n michigan
Signature: John Peters

Giant Ichneumon

Giant Ichneumon

Dear John,
This is a Giant Ichneumon in the genus
Megarhyssa, most likely Megarhyssa macrurus.  It appears to be drinking from a water fountain.  Please confirm that.  Giant Ichneumons are sometimes called Stump Stabbers because the female uses her long ovipositor to lay eggs that will hatch into larvae that feed on the wood boring larvae of Horntails like the Pigeon Horntail.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Wood eating mystery!!
Location: Southeast idaho
August 5, 2016 4:40 pm
Hoping you can identify this bug for me. I live in southeast Idaho and the other day I noticed a VERY loud chewing sound coming from a pile of branches I have in my backyard. When I went over to look all I could see was sawdust looking stuff all over, but I couldn’t find any bugs anywhere. Then today I noticed a few of these bugs flying around. I was nervous at first because it looked like a termite, but I’m not sure that’s what it is. It has a red body, black wings, and long straight black antennas. I’m really hoping it’s not a destructive wood eater.
Signature: Sarah

Braconid, we believe

Braconid, we believe

Dear Sarah,
While we are not able to give you an exact species identification, at least we can alleviate your anxiety by informing you that this is NOT a Termite.  We are quite certain that it is a Parasitoid Wasp, and after scouring the pages of BugGuide for the past two days, we believe it is a Braconid Wasp in the family Braconidae.  Our best guess at this time is that it might be in the genus
Atanycolus, which according to BugGuide is “Next to impossible to identify this genus from images alone, however it is one of the more common genera in the subfamily” and they are found in:  “Woodland habitats for the most part.”  BugGuide continues with this information:  “Parasites of woodboring beetle larvae, especially metallic wood-boring beetles (Buprestidae) and longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae)”  Here is a somewhat similar looking individual from BugGuide.  Now, here is our theory, though you did not say much about the pile of branches, we suspect the wood may have been infested with the larvae of wood boring beetles.  The beetles do make loud noises when they emerge from the pupa and chew their way to the surface.  The appearance of these Braconids is an indication that nature is trying to balance things out.  When hosts are plentiful, predators (or in this case Parasitoids) increase in number.  The female Braconid Wasp will lay her eggs, using her ovipositor, on or near the host, meaning the wood boring beetle larvae.  When the Braconid larvae hatch, they feed on the host, eventually killing it.  Adult Braconid Wasps eventually emerge from the wood and mate to produce a new generation.  So, while this Braconid Wasp is not feeding on the wood, it is trying to control some wood eating species of beetle.  That means something is eating your wood pile.  Finally, since the individual in your image does not appear to have an ovipositor, we suspect it is a male.

Braconid, we believe

Braconid, we believe

Wow, you guys are awesome!! You really know your stuff! After breaking apart some of the branches, I did find some beetles and larvae. You nailed it! And now I’ll just leave the wasps to feast away! Thanks again!

Thanks for the confirmation.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination