What is an ichneumon wasp? – With over 5,000 species of ichneumon wasps in North America, there is no shortage. This insect family is among the most species-rich branches of the tree of life in the animal kingdom. With so many different species of ichneumon wasp, they can be found all over the world. Depending on the species, they can look vastly different from one another, making it difficult to identify which is which. So, how does one identify an ichneumon wasp if there are so many different species?
How to identify an Ichneumon Wasp
As mentioned before, there are several species of ichneumon wasp. This, in turn, can make it difficult to identify which one is flying around your home. Some species have a long abdomen that appears to look like a stinger. However, most species of ichneumon wasps do not sting humans. Their long abdomen is where they lay their eggs and this portion of their body is typically longer than their entire body. These insects can vary in color from dark blacks and browns to very bright colors like yellow or orange. Ichneumon Wasps have also been seen with various patterns such as black and yellow like a yellow jacket. Even though these insects look intimidating, there is nothing to be afraid of because they do not sting.
What do Ichneumon Wasps eat?
These insects are considered beneficial because they eat garden pests, such as boll weevils, hornworms, and wood borers. Besides garden pests, Ichneumon wasp also likes to feed on bigger insects like spiders and butterflies. A fun fact about these wasps is that they are parasitic wasps, meaning they lay their eggs in other insects. Their eggs then eat the host from the inside, usually killing the host in the process. Once the eggs have reached maturity, they leave the host and begin the process once over.
Where do Ichneumon Wasps live?
Ichneumon wasps are known to live in heavily wooded areas in the United States. These areas provide them with a consistent food source and shelter. Here in Tennessee, there are many heavily wooded areas, so these insects are quite common.
Can they inject their eggs into humans?
Luckily, ichneumon wasp only injects their eggs into other insects, unlike the human botfly who can inject its larvae into humans. Furthermore, even though they do not inject their eggs into humans, some species of ichneumon wasp can sting. It is recommended to not aggravate these insects because they may sting if disturbed.
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