Wood hornet?
July 31, 2009
This bug was flying around the lights in front of my house in Richmond, Virginia on the night of July 29, 2009. I think it could be a wood hornet and I think the whip-like tail could be an ovipositor (thanks to the information your website provided!) but I am not sure. If this is an ovipositor, why is it so long? It seemed as though the bug had very little control of it as it flew around the lights and banged into the side of the house!
Richmond, VA

Female Giant Ichneumon

Female Giant Ichneumon

Hi Steph,
Coincidentally, a few minutes ago we posted an image of a male Megarhyssa atrata, and in that response, we described the female.  Your photo is a female Giant Ichneumon, Megarhyssa atrata.  She does have an ovipositor.  Giant Ichneumons prey upon the larvae of Pigeon Horntails and other wood boring insects that infest dead and dying trees.  The female uses her long ovipositor to deposit eggs deep inside infested wood, “drilling” until she locates the tunnel of a wood boring grub.  That is where she lays the egg.
We have several nice images of Giant Ichnuemons ovipositing on our website, including this one from June 2008.  We have heard that Giant Ichneumons may be attracted to artificial lights at night.

2 Responses to Giant Ichneumon: female of the species

  1. Christy says:

    Thank You So much!! When I was a teenager living in Richmond, VA, I found one of these bugs in my parent’s garage. I killed it and took it to my science teacher but Never got an answer on what it was. All these years I’ve wondered, and now I have an answer! (P.S. I no longer kill insects of any variety, and have been known to save spides of all species)

  2. Steve says:

    I saw one of these for the first time on my screen door. I thought it was a flying ant, until I noticed the long tail, which kind of freaked me out. I didn’t think of it being a wasp, or other stinging bug as it was smaller than any wasp I had ever seen.

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