|MadSci Network: Zoology|
It sounds like you've found an ichneumon wasp. Ichneumon wasps are not
true wasps, but "cousins" that parasitize grubs and larvae that live in trees.
There are many species
of ichneumonidae native to the Eastern United States, each
parasitizing a specific host. In fact, some garden supply stores sell ichneumon
wasps (also called ichneumon flies), as well as ladybugs and mantises, to control
various plant pests. The description you gave and your location suggest that
yours is the Eastern Giant
Ichneumon, Megarhyssa macrurus, pictured here. (For a better picture
of the ovipositor, you can look at a picture of a mounted relative, Dolichomitus mesocentrus
.) While some people find them unappealing, ichneumon wasps are generally
beneficial and should be seen as a blessing, since their presence will improve
the health of the trees in your neighborhood; although this particular species
tends to favor larvae that inhabit dead deciduous trees, so their benefits may be
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Zoology.