Subject: What’s this yellow wasp?
Geographic location of the bug: Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsuala
Time: 05:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi there! I’m living in Costa Rica and accustomed to all manner of crazy bugs, including having many, many paper wasps making my home their home. I’ve come across a very pretty wasp today, however, which I’ve never seen before. Any time there’s only one of something and it’s abnormally pretty, I start to wonder. I was hoping you could help me identify my new kitchen guest and let me know if I should be nervous about the surprisingly long stinger or not.
(sorry about the dust…it’s a daily accumulation, it’s crazy down here!)
Thanks in advance!
How you want your letter signed: Monique
We believe this is a parasitoid Ichneumon, a harmless solitary Wasp, but we have not had any luck finding any similar looking individuals online. According to BugGuide: “arguably, the largest animal family, with the estimated 60,000 species worldwide (up to 100,000, according to some estimates” and “Ichneumonids are notoriously hard to identify: aside from the sheer number of species, there are numerous cases of distant relatives that appear almost identical. Any identification based solely on comparing images should be treated as suspect unless an expert has said there are no lookalikes for the species or group in question.” Ichneumons are important biological control agents and many species prey on caterpillars. The female uses her long ovipositor (not a real stinger) to lay eggs inside the body of the living host and the larva that hatches will feed on the internal organs of the host, eventually killing it.