Subject: Is this a wood wasp?
Location: North Yorkshire England
August 6, 2014 2:25 pm
Hi I was at work today putting up a fence when I felt a pain in my leg. I looked and was not sure what it was I knocked it away and in doing so unfortunately killed the insect. It had however stung me and it is incredibly painful even now 10 hours later. I am from the north east of England and have never seen such a creature please help me identify it!
Signature: James Rowe
This is indeed a Great Wood Wasp, and we are quite surprised to learn of your experience. According to UK Safari: “The female (above) has a long pointed tube at the back of her body, and this is often mistaken for a stinging organ. In fact it’s an ovipositor, which she uses to lay her eggs in the trunks of coniferous trees. Despite their appearance, these insects are quite harmless.” Knowing that and also knowing that the female lays her eggs beneath the surface of the bark of a tree, we believe it is entirely possible that this Great Wood Wasp mistook your leg for a conifer, and tried to lay eggs. Do you use pine scented soap? We do not believe she was trying to sting you. It is also possible that she used her powerful mandibles to nibble at your leg.
Thank you for your speedy and informative response. This is indeed very likely as I was at the time building a fence using pine timber and it is very possible that the timber would have come into contact with my leg. There is in all 5 “sting” marks on my leg so it is possible that she has had a nibble. It is rather swollen and painful. What could this be? It does feel like a general bee/wasp sting. Could she have laid her eggs?
Hi again James,
This is quite perplexing and contrary to all we have read, so we are tagging this posting as a mystery. We suppose if you were jabbed with her ovipositor accidentally, it is also possible that she deposited eggs. Unless you have a wooden leg, you shouldn’t have much to worry about, however, as we are not medical doctors, should any irritation persist, you might want to seek medical attention.
Eric Eaton Concurs
I would concur with your assessment, except I doubt she would have laid eggs. After five attempts she may have concluded “this is not a tree.” In any event, I agree he should seek medical attention if symptoms persist or get worse.