Orange Ichneumonid Wasps in Boise, ID

Hi,

What is this little guy? He’s about 1″ long, climbing the stem of a Artemisia Powis Castle evergreen sage plant this year in March.

Molly

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Hey Molly,

That orange wasp really pops out among the sage. From the looks of it, I would identify this as an ichneumonid wasp, perhaps even some species of Trogus.

Ichneumonid wasps are interesting insects. They use their stingers to lay their eggs inside of other creatures, usually soft-bodied caterpillars, beetle grubs, or even spiders. Some have very long stingers, or as we call them, ovipositors, that can drill through wood to find wood-boring beetle larvae. They then inject the larva with an egg and fly away to their next victim. They may not sound like very good mothers, but the females sometimes must be very specific with the host they lay their eggs in.

The egg hatches inside the host and eats it from the inside out. Ichneumonid wasps are one of the best parasitic wasps for controlling invertebrate pests. And it’s a very diverse group of wasps. There are more species of ichneumonid wasps than there are species of birds and mammals combined!

Trogus wasps lay just a single egg in swallowtail caterpillars and they can be found throughout the US. I can’t be 100% sure it’s a Trogus wasp without actually handling the specimen, but it has the same characteristics found in that genus.

Dr. Bolton, PhD

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