American Pelecinid Wasp (Pelecinus polyturator)
Detailing the identifying qualities of the American Pelecinid Wasp, including physical features and territorial reach.
Updated: 1/31/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Pelecinid Wasp make look like a small alien and evoke anxiety on sight, but it is actually a useful parasite that naturally controls beetle numbers.
The long, glossy abdomen ('tail') of the Pelecinid Wasp female invokes trepidation among humans, but it does not sting. It is actually used to deposit eggs onto the backs of grubs living underground. She pokes it deep into the soil until she hits one. She then lays one egg on it and moves on to find another. When the wasp egg hatches, the larva will use its mouth to burrow into the helpless grub and eat it from the inside out.
Females have bulging legs in addition to the extremely long and thin abdomen. They do not have stingers, but may try to poke at a threat to push or scare it away. The male has a shorter abdomen with a swollen tip. They are rarely seen, but share traits like the glossy body and bulging legs (albeit smaller) with females.
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. Females are often spotted surveying land for hosts. This species is capable of producing offspring from unfertilized eggs, a remarkable feat for a living creature.