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Ichneumon wasp

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Ichneumon wasp

 
An ichneumon wasp, Megarhyssa macrurus (Linnaeus) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae). Photo by Bart Drees.

An ichneumon wasp, Megarhyssa macrurus (Linnaeus) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae). Photo by Bart Drees.

Adults of Megarhyssa macrurus lunator have brown bodies, up to 1-1/2″ long, marked with black and yellow markings and transparent wings. Females have a very long (up to 3 inches long) thread-like egg-laying structure (ovipositor) on the end of their abdomens.

Megarhyssa macrurus macrurus (Linnaeus) is similar in size to M. m. lunator, but the body and wings are dark brown. Rhyssella species are black with white markings, not as large as Megarhyssa, and parasitize wood boring wood wasp larvae (Xiphydriidae) in conifers. Possibly a more common ichneumon is Ophion nigrovarius Provancher, which is reddish or dark yellow-brown, 1-inch long, with brown-tinted wings. Larvae feed on immature stages of white grubs (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae). Adults can sting and are frequently encountered around lights in and around the home. Most ichneumons are smaller parasitic wasps. Adults often feed on body juices of hosts and larvae feed in on immature stages, such as larvae and pupae of butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera), and sawflies and wasps (Hymenoptera). Some species attack spiders or are hyperparasites (parasites that feed on other parasites) and, thus, might not be considered to be beneficial insects. Most species overwinter in the cocoon as a mature larva, although some spend the winter as adult females. There may be one to 10 generations produced annually depending on the species.

For more information, see A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects online or purchase the book through Amazon or other fine booksellers.

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