Giant Ichneumon from Alaska

What kind of insect is this?
Location: Ketchikan, Alaska
July 21, 2011 10:56 pm
I live in Southeast Alaska; Ketchikan to be exact. I friend of mine posted this picture on Facebook and now I really want to find out what this is! I’ve never seen anything quite like it!
Signature: Elizabeth

Giant Ichneumon

Hi Elizabeth,
This is a Giant Ichneumon in the genus
Megarhyssa.  Though this is not the best image we have received of a Giant Ichneumon, it does show the long ovipositor that is often mistaken for a stinger.  Many stinging insects have evolved so that the ovipositor has also been modified into the stinger which only the female possesses.  The Giant Ichneumon does not have a stinger, but the ovipositor is used to lay eggs beneath the bark of trees that have been infested by the wood boring larvae of various wood wasps, including the Pigeon Horntail.  Your email has us excited because we do not get many insect identification requests from Alaska, and also because we did not realize the Giant Ichneumons ranged that far north.  We believe your species is Megarhyssa nortoni since its colors and markings match and the species is found in the Pacific Northwest.  Here is the BugGuide page on Megarhyssa nortoni.

3 thoughts on “Giant Ichneumon from Alaska”

  1. These things weren’t around when i was a kid. I’ve seen them all over in Fairbanks and about 100 miles farther north. I’ve seen ones that were orange and redish as well, also with a pair of “stinger” things


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