A couple nights ago it was raining, as usual. I kept my blacklight on, though, since it was just sprinkling on and off. Only a few moths came to the light, along with a smattering of beetles. I was about to give up and go to bed when I saw this lovely lady buzzing around. WOW!!!
She is Megarhyssa atrata, the Giant Ichneumon, and take a look at that ovipositor! Female ichneumonid wasps such as these use that long contraption to bore into wood and reach a soft squishy insect target inside, usually a horntail wasp larva. They will then lay an egg inside the larva’s body, and the young will hatch and eat it from the inside out.
I had never seen one of these alive before, and pinned specimens are usually beat up and broken. I was so impressed (and sleepy) that I decided to let her live (hey, I keep a kill jar by the door for times such as these). However when I opened the screen door to go back in the house, she followed me in! So we played a game of tag around the lights in my living room for about 10 minutes, with her pretending to sting me every time I got my hands on her… until I finally wrangled her safely and threw her outside. She bounced off my blacklighting sheet a few times and fluttered back into the woods. Definitely an interesting encounter.
Posted on June 15, 2011, in Hymenoptera, Invertebrates. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.
you should see HER blog entry about this!
Haha, indeed, I’d love to know what her little insect brain thought of that whole experience.
Wow, that’s really amazing! I’m not surprised that specimins are usually beat up, that ovipositor looks really fragile. I showed the picture to my husband and he wanted to know if it’s prehensile!
It is sort of – they have to curl it up and bend it in order to use it to bore into wood to find their victim. They can’t grab onto anything though!