Insect Identification
Insect Identification

American Pelecinid Wasp - (Pelecinus polyturator)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 10/20/2014

The Pelecinid Wasp make look like a small alien, but it is a useful parasite that controls beetle numbers.

The long abdomen ('tail') of the female invokes trepidation among humans, but its primary purpose is not to sting. It is actually used to deposit eggs onto the backs of grubs living underground. She pokes deep into the soil until she hits one. She then lays one egg on it and moves on. When the egg hatches, the wasp larva will then burrow into the helpless grub and eat it from the inside out.

The male has a shorter abdomen with a swollen tip. They are rarely seen. Females have bulging legs in addition to the extremely long and thin abdomen.

Adults feed on nectar from garden plants, woods and other areas. They are low fliers, staying close to the ground and sometimes are spotted perched on low growing shrubs or plants.

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Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common name: American Pelecinid Wasp
Scientific Name: Pelecinus polyturator

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Hymenoptera
      Family: Pelecinidae
       Genus: Pelecinus
        Species: polyturator

Adult Size (Length): 15mm to 62mm (0.59in to 2.44in)

Identifying Colors: black; yellow

Additional Descriptors: long, skinny, stinger, thighs, stinging, flying, harmful

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kentucky; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Vermont; Virginia; Nova Scotia; Newfoundland and Labrador; New Brunswick; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.