Giant Ichneumon

Please help me figure this one out
Hi there.
My name is Kenneth. I was taking a bus home from niagara falls to London (ontario), me and my friend got laid over at the bus stop in "Burlington" (ontarip, not sure if the locations are going to help or not so yea.) but this gaint bug just fewl up and landed on the tree not even 2 fet away from me.. and it scared the crap outta me lol. I just wanted to know what kinda of bug it was. i’ll attach a copy of my picture here. (took the picture using my macro lens, so hopefully you can see it clearly) in the picture here. i really should of put something else in the shot just for scaling.. but i didnt think of it.. too scared lol. but the stinger (or what looks like a stinger :S ) was at least 6 inchs long. the body was about an inch and a half please if you could help me understand what this bug is. maybe next time i wont be soo scared of it. lol thanks. feel free to contact me at this address

Hi Kenneth,
While we understand your fear of the unknown insect with the six inch long stinger, we can assure you that this Giant Ichneumon is perfectly harmless. We believe this is Megarhyssa macrurus, but it might be another member of the genus. Your specimen is a female, as evidenced by her long ovipositor, not stinger. She oviposits her eggs deep inside dead and dying wood since the larvae feed on wood boring grubs. Through some complex sensory perception, she manages to locate the host grub for her larva and deposits the egg where larva will find host. It is not entirely clear if she oviposits directly onto the grub, or into the tunnel the grub has bored into the wood. We are currently researching the brilliant and interesting 17th Century naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian in preparation for a lecture we will give next month at the Getty. Merian pursued her fascination with caterpillar metamorphosis to the Amazon jungles of Surinam in the year 1699. Her quest to document the wonders of the exotic new world on originated in Germany, when, as a child of thirteen, she began to illustrate insect metamorphosis, including all stages and food plants of the caterpillars she located in her garden. She produced work at a time when the scientific community still believed in Spontaneous Generation, and she could not figure out why some pupa, or date pits as she called them, developed into butterflies and moths while others produced wasps and flies. Flies like Tachnid Flies and wasps like Ichneumons and Braconids parasitize the larvae and pupae of other insects, resulting in the confusion that Merian encountered while trying to unravel the wonders of life on this planet (and beyond) by direct observation. While that is way more information than you requested, the bottom line is that to this day, we still understand so little about the world around us, and one careless decision just might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, producing irreparable harm to our planet. While we believe that life will not be completely destroyed, that straw just might lead to mass species extinctions, including, perhaps, the human species. Thank you for taking the time to observe the world around you.

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