I found an insect living with me a couple of days ago in my California condo which is nestled against a small, grassy hill. At first, I avoided it – I am very afraid of insects, but I have no desire to harm them. Then I became more and more curious because I’ve never seen anything like it before. It looks like a fly’s torso put onto an orange, wasp-like body! It’s about 1 inch long. I overcame my fear enough to trap it and take a few photos for you. What is it?
The reason your Ichneumon looks like a wasp is because they are related, though Ichneumons do not sting. What looks like a stinger is in fact the ovipositor, the egg laying organ of the female Ichneumon. She uses the ovipositor to deposit eggs inside the bodies of her host insects, often caterpillars, and the young Ichneumon will eat the prey alive from the inside. Ichneumons are important in the biological control of insect pests, so they are beneficial.