Some creatures are scarier than others. This one, hanging from the garage ceiling, sent my younger son sprinting into the house the moment he laid eyes on it.
Fortunately, that four-inch long "stinger" isn't a stinger at all.
This is a Giant Ichneumon Wasp, megarhyssa atrata lineata, and that formidable-looking appendage is a highly dexterous tool for boring into wood and laying eggs.
How the ovipositor can bore into wood is still not well understood, but in some species they actually have metal tips.
This parasitic wasp lays eggs inside the caterpillars of wood borers, primarily of horn tail wasps. The eggs hatch inside their hosts, feeding slowly from the inside out, killing the host only when they pupate.
The whole grisly process is said to have shaken Charles Darwin's faith in a benevolent Creator. You can pretty much see his point.
The adult ichneumon, on the other hand, doesn't eat at all. She's just a lean, mean, baby monster-making machine.
All in all, the wasp is considered a beneficial insect. Unless you're a caterpillar.
If you'd like to see one of these amazing creatures in action, here's a remarkable YouTube link for you. And for bigger, better still shots go here.
Click here to see more Nature Notes.
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