Some Ichneumonids

This time of year, there are a lot of chneumonidae hustling about.

The superfamily Ichneumonoidea, the Braconid and Ichneumonid Wasps, are a broad and diverse taxonomic collection of parasitic wasps. All these females are hunting for the anthropoids they parasitize. But, alas, they’re really hard to ID by photograph alone. (For instance, I have 78 iNaturalist observations in this superfamily, but only 14 are identified to species level.)

Some this-is-the-best-planet coolness from “Two subfamilies of Ichneumonidae (Campopleginae and Banchinae) and 6 subfamilies of Braconidae (Microgastrinae, Miracinae, Cheloninae (including Adeliinae), Cardiochilinae, Khoikhoiinae, and Mendesellinae) carry polydnavirus DNA in their genomes, and release polydnaviruses into the host when the eggs are injected. The polydnaviruses suppress the host’s immune system, thus protecting parasitoid progeny from host defenses.”

On iNaturalist, somebody marveled at the fearsome “stinger” on one of these. But these aren’t stingers. They’re ovipositors. The female wasps are looking for the species they parasitize to lay their eggs on, or in. There are thousands of kinds of wasps in North America; very few of them sting, and then only when provoked. I’ve photographed many social wasps, the kinds that may sting, without bother. The only times I’ve been stung it’s been by by a honey bee. (Most bees don’t sting, either.)

This is a good read on the notion of “beneficial” and “pest” insects.

1 Response to “Some Ichneumonids”

  1. 1 Paul Lamb October 13, 2021 at 5:44 am

    I’ve been stung by wasps or hornets four times and it’s always been on my right ear for some reason.

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