Currently viewing the category: "Parasitic Hymenopterans"
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Subject: Weird Bug
Location: Harrisburg PA
May 23, 2015 5:46 am
Dear WTB:
I was hoping you could tell me what kind of insect this is. I found it hanging out on my screen door this morning and it scared the crap outta me! It’s all different colors and has this long tail? It’s not a stinger because it could move it. All together it’s probably about 8-12 inches long. I hope you can ID it for me! Thanks so much!
Signature: Audrey

Stump Stabber

Stump Stabber

Dear Audrey,
This is a Giant Ichneumon in the genus
Megarhyssa, a group that is commonly called Stump Stabbers because the female uses her lengthy ovipositor to lay eggs beneath the surface of trees infested with the wood boring larvae of Wood Wasps like the Pigeon Horntail.  We have never heard of a person being stung by a Giant Icheumon in the genus Megarhyssa, so we consider them to be harmless, though there is one group of Ichneumons in the genus Ophion with shorter ovipositors that are reported to sting people.

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Subject: Caterpillars in Costa Rica
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
April 24, 2015 10:28 am
What are these caterpillars, what are they going to turn into, why do they clump like this, and why does one (lower right) appear to have white things on it?
Signature: Ashley from the Monteverde Institute

Nymphalidae Caterpillars

Moth Caterpillars

Dear Ashley,
We believe these Caterpillars are in the Brush Footed Butterfly family Nymphalidae, and the caterpillar in question appears to have been parasitized by a Chalcid or Braconid Wasp.  We will contact Keith Wolfe to see if he can identify the caterpillars more specifically.

Nymphalidae Caterpillar parasitized by Wasp

Moth Caterpillar parasitized by Wasp

Keith Wolfe provides a correction
Hi Daniel,
Nope, these are immature moths, the scoli (spines) being much too long for any Neotropical nymphalid.
Best wishes,

After Keith Wolfe’s correction, we are now speculating that they are relatives of Buck Moths in the subfamily Hemileucinae and we will see if Bill Oehlke can provide any information.

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Subject: Stinging bug
Location: colorodo
April 7, 2015 8:55 pm
got stung in the leg. Never seen a bug like this before.
Signature: kW

Short Tailed Ichneumon

Short Tailed Ichneumon

Dear kW,
We believe your parasitic Ichneumon Wasp is a Short Tailed Ichneumon in the genus
Ophion, one of the few genera in the family known to sting.  The sting is not considered dangerous.  According to BugGuide:  “Most all Ophion larva are parasites of caterpillars.”

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Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Georgetown KY
March 25, 2015 8:05 pm
My husband was stung by this bug. We have never seen one before. It is red and flies. What is it?
Signature: Diana


Short Tailed Ichneumon

Dear Diana,
This is an Ichneumon, a member of a family of parasitic wasps.  Most Ichneumons are perfectly harmless, though there is one genus, Ophion, that is reported to sting.  Your individual appears to be a member of the genus Ophion, the Short Tailed Ichneumons, which you can read more about on BugGuide.  We believe this is the insect that is mistaken for a stinging Crane Fly as Crane Flies do not sting.

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Subject: Random Washington bug… I guess
Location: Western Washington
March 10, 2015 9:38 pm
So sometime this last late fall/early winter was the first time I saw this bug. later it they started appearing whenever we would leave the door or a window open. My moms first reaction was to kill it so it took a while for me to even be able to catch one. when i caught the one in the photo I couldn’t get a clear photo of it. so i released it in the bathroom and took a few pictures of it then opened the window. when i looked back at the bug it was gone. i found it like a few mins later on the sink ether paralyzed or dead don’t really know which cause my mom found it before i could get another thing to hold it in and she killed it -_-
Signature: ~Devin



Hi Devin,
This is a parasitic wasp known as an Ichneumon.  For many years we thought that Ichneumons were incapable of stinging humans, but we later learned that one particular group of Ichneumons in the genus
Ophion can sting.  According to  “while Ophion is one of the few Ichneumonidæ which are known to sting, and while a small, narrow poison sac has been detected in a few species of that immense family, none has been recorded in Ophion luteus. But whereas the sting is followed in every instance by considerable inflammation and pain, such as would not be the effect of the mere stab of a needle, it seems almost certain that some irritant is injected into the wound, possibly for the purpose of paralysing the fly’s legitimate victim, as in the case of the hunting-wasps.”  According to BugGuide:  “They are often attracted to artificial lights.”  We believe your Ichneumon is in the genus Ophion.  We have tried unsuccessfully to convince folks that Crane Flies do NOT sting, and we believe they have been mistaking these Ichneumons for Crane Flies.



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Subject: Weird Red Flying Insect
Location: Mill Creek, WA, USA
February 8, 2015 11:12 pm
Hi! I saw this bug quite a while ago on the side of my house. I just learned about your website so I thought I’d send in my pic! I hope you can help!!
Signature: What?



Dear What?,
This is an Ichneumon, a parasitic wasp in the family Ichneumonidae, which according to BugGuide has:  “About 5,000 described species in North America, possibly 3,000 more undescribed; arguably, the largest animal family, with the estimated 60,000 species worldwide (up to 100,000, according to some estimates).  Your individual looks very similar to this member of the genus
Ophion from Idaho that is pictured on BugGuide.”

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