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

Subject: Sawflies
Location: Southwest MI, USA
October 18, 2013 4:08 pm
Happened to see this fellow on a marigold. Had never seen one before but after looking online, my best guess it is some sort of sawfly. Can you identify it for me?
Signature: d.k. dodge

Possibly Male Ichneumon

Possibly Male Ichneumon

Hi d.k. dodge,
We believe this is a male Ichneumon, and that family, according to BugGuide, contains:  “About 5,000 described species in North America, possibly 3,000 more undescribed(2); arguably, the largest animal family, with the estimated 60,000 species worldwide (up to 100,000, according to some estimates.”  We have contacted Eric Eaton for confirmation.

Eric Eaton confirms
Yes, an ichneumon.  Not sure what gender, though.  Not all female ichneumons have a visible ovipositor.
Eric

Thank you.  The body type would be consistent with many ichneumons, so I’m not surprised.  I anxiously await more confirmation.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Grasshopper Like Fly
Location: Brewton, Alabama
October 14, 2013 12:28 pm
I’ve never seen this type of bug before it’s like a cross between a grasshopper, a fly, and a wasp all at the same time. Can you please tell me what this is?
Signature: Erica C.

Ensign Wasp

Ensign Wasp

Dear Erica,
We guessed correctly from your subject line that you were inquiring about an Ensign Wasp.  Ensign Wasps are parasitic and they prey upon the ootheca of Cockroaches, which means they are a natural means of controlling the household pests.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Scared husband, Braconid or ichneumon?
Location: Shelton, CT
October 13, 2013 10:13 pm
My husband found this on his arm today after helping me with some gardening. I’m not sure how it escaped with its life, he’s a bit jittery with the insect world. He came to get me, I assured him the spike as he called it was not to sting him! We are curious what she is and where she would be depositing her eggs. She had some really pretty colors, orange and yellow. Not very graceful in flight though. I put her in my juniper bush to save her from the dog!
Signature: Karen wife if scared husband

Giant Ichneumon

Giant Ichneumon

Hi Karen,
This is a Giant Ichneumon in the genus
Megarhyssa, most likely Megarhyssa macrurus or Megarhyssa nortoni, which are both pictured on BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this insect?
Location: NE Ohio
September 29, 2013 9:36 am
This was found in Ohio. I’ve never seen an insect like this let along one that has a stinger that long. Approximate size of stinger was 3-4”
Signature: Mike

Stump Stabber

Stump Stabber

Hi Mike,
This is a female Giant Ichneumon in the genus
Megarhyssa, most likely Megarhyssa macrurus or Megarhyssa nortoni.  Giant Ichneumons are commonly called Stump Stabbers.  What you have mistaken for a stinger is the ovipositor of the female.  A female Stump Stabber inserts her ovipositor beneath the bark of a dead or dying tree that is infested with wood boring larvae of Wood Wasps like the Pigeon Horntail.  Your photo is most interesting for us because we almost always receive images of Stump Stabbers stabbing stumps.  We have read that adults take nectar, and your photo appears to illustrate a nectaring female.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Parasites On Tomato Hornworm
Location: Tampa, Florida
September 22, 2013 5:17 pm
Dear What’s That Bug,
We are HUGE fans, for many years. Here is a great shot we though you’d enjoy! We sure enjoyed watching the bug show!
Signature: Bug Love, Ana & Cory

Parasitized Hornworm

Parasitized Hornworm:  Rustic Sphinx, we believe

Hi Ana & Cory,
This is definitely a parasited Hornworm, and the parasites are Braconids, however, we do not believe this is either a Tomato Hornworm or a Tobacco Hornworm.  The caudal horn does not resemble either species and the caterpillar appears to be feeding on some plant other than a member of the family Solanacea.  Compare your caterpillar to the images of a Tomato Hornworm or Five Spotted Hakmoth on Sphingidae of the Americas, and to the photos of a Tobacco Hornworm or Carolina Sphinx also on Sphingidae of the Americas.  Can you provide the name of the plant for us?  That might help assist in the species identification for your caterpillar.  Our best guess is that this might be the caterpillar of a Rustic Sphinx.  Compare the texture on the caudal horn and the head of your individual to the images posted to Sphingidae of the Americas and to BugGuide.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for responding!  I have to admit, that since I’m such a huge fan, I was on cloud nine all day from your nice response. Years ago, when I began college, I was curious about insects, and your site really inspired me to learn more. I learned so much from you. Now I’m a science teacher, and we play with bugs every chance we get, and my students are encouraged to catch them and display them (alive) in the classroom for a few days. You’ve never taught a lesson, until a giant katydid crawled on your (and your students’) arms! Cory is an environmental scientist and a lover of all “bugs” as well. He was also the photographer of this stunning shot.
After your help, we concur that it is a Rustic Sphinx Caterpillar. He/she was on a Beauty Berry, callicarpa americana, that is in my front yard. After research, the beauty berry is a rustic sphinx moth host plant. I can’t wait to share this with my students tomorrow. Unfortunately for the caterpillar (and the Braconids), it was eaten by a bird :(
Thanks again for your reply. We absolutely love what you do!
Ana & Cory
Tampa, FL

Hi again Ana & Cory,
Thank you for your inspirational email.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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