Subject: What is this flying insect? It was about 3” long with approx a 3” stinger (?) attached.
Geographic location of the bug: Near Battle Creek, MI
Time: 04:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Appreciate you identifying this insect for us. We have never seen one of these before and have live here for over 60 years!
How you want your letter signed: Dave Hlatko
Thanks for your inquiry. This is one of Daniel’s favorite insects to educate about, Megarhyssa atrata, a species commonly called the Giant Ichneumon or Stump Stabber. Daniel distinctly remembers as a child seeing an impressive image of a Giant Ichneumon in his copy of Insects: A Guide to Familiar American Insects. Your individual is a female and what you have mistaken for a stinger is her ovipositor, an organ that allows her to deposit her eggs. In the case of the Giant Ichneumon, the ovipositor is able to drill into dead and dying wood to lay an egg near the tunnel produced by the larva of the Pigeon Horntail, a type of Wood Wasp. Because of her ability to oviposit, the Giant Ichneumon is sometimes called a Stump Stabber. The stingers of bees and wasps are modified ovipositors that have evolved into an organ that helps to defend the insect from threats.