MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Can You help me identify a peculiar species of wasp I found?

Date: Thu Jun 1 12:08:33 2000
Posted By: Michael Onken, Admin, MadSci Network
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 959812849.Zo

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 minimal.

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