Currently viewing the category: "Ichneumons"

Subject:  Identify bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Leicestershire, UK
Date: 07/16/2021
Time: 01:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This was flying around my room at night, I thought it was a daddy long longs and grasped it in two hands. After a couple seconds, it “stung” me as I felt a very sharp prick on my hand.
As I closed it into just one hand to open the window, i felt another very sharp prick – so much so that I quickly released it to move away.
The pain continued in both areas for a fair few minutes and after trapping it in a glass, I managed to take a few pictures before releasing it.
It’s about the size of a daddy long legs, but is red with a “sting” on the end (where it is black) and “spikes” on its legs.  I’ve never seen it before, let alone have one mildly hurt me.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
How you want your letter signed:  Jack


Dear Jack,
This is a parasitoid Ichneumon Wasp, and there are some species that are capable of stinging as you have learned first-hand.  Of the species pictured on the Natural History Museum Beginner’s Guide to Identifying British Ichneumonids, we believe it looks most like
Callajoppa exaltatoria, which is also pictured on Ukranian Biodiversity Information Network.  Though the coloration is similar to your individual, we do not believe they are the same species as other anatomical features appear different.  Ichneumons can be very difficult to identify with certainty.

Subject:  Insect
Geographic location of the bug:  East Greenville PA
Date: 06/30/2021
Time: 03:57 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Any chance you know what insect this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Heather

Stump Stabber

Dear Heather,
This is a Stump Stabber, the common name for the Giant Ichneumon
Megarhyssa atrata.  Your individual is a female and she uses her very long, up to five inches in length, ovipositor to deposit her eggs in dead and dying wood that contains the wood boring larvae of a Wood Wasp known as a Horntail, which is the food for the Stump Stabber larva.

Subject:  What’s this yellow wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsuala
Date: 12/09/2019
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

Unknown Ichneumon

Dear 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.

Thank you Daniel!
I used your identification in Google Images and, instead of getting moths like searching my image did, I found many similar images, so I completely trust your ID. She really was pretty and I hope that she finds a nice caterpillar nearby to help her hatch a lovely family.
Thanks for such a quick reply!

Subject:  Flying beetle????
Geographic location of the bug:  Cochrane, Alberta Canada
Date: 10/24/2019
Time: 03:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Saw this walking along our window (inside)
How you want your letter signed:  Tracey


Dear Tracey,
Those antennae lead us to believe that this is some species of Ichneumon, a family of parasitoid Wasps whose larvae feed on the internal organs of host-specific Arachnids and immature insects including Caterpillars, Beetle grubs and larvae of wood boring Wasps.  This is an enormous family with according to BugGuide:  “~5,000 described spp. in almost 500 genera in the Nearctic Region, possibly 3,000 more undescribed.”  We doubt it is your species because it is not reported as far north or west, but your individual does resemble 
Limonethe maurator which is pictured on BugGuide.

Subject:  What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Alabama
Date: 08/15/2019
Time: 10:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this?
How you want your letter signed:  Gillian McCown

Stump Stabber

Dear Gillian,
This is a female Giant Ichneumon in the genus
Megarhyssa, probably Megarhyssa macrurus.  Giant Ichneumons are sometimes called Stump Stabbers because the female uses her long ovipositor to deposit eggs beneath the bark of trees infested with wood boring larvae of Horntails.  They are not aggressive and they do not sting.

Subject:  Crane Fly?
Geographic location of the bug:  Ontario
Date: 08/09/2019
Time: 05:42 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I saw this beautiful large insect with amazing colours and couldn’t help but take a picture and try to figure out what it was. The bug looks so deadly but my logic tells me it’s some sort of crane fly that wouldn’t harm you but you never know. I’m thinking someone else might find this insect really cool looking.
How you want your letter signed:  Crane fly???

Stump Stabber

This Giant Ichneumon, Megarhyssa macrurus, is commonly called a Stump Stabber because the female uses her very long ovipositor to drill into trees infested with Horntail larvae, and then to lay eggs.  Ichneumon larvae feed on the Horntail larvae.