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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 ¬©

  American Pelecinid Wasp  
Picture of American-Pelecinid-Wasp
Picture of American-Pelecinid-Wasp

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.

American Pelecinid Wasp Information

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

Taxonomy Hierarchy

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

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 15 mm to 62 mm (0.585 inches to 2.418 inches)
Identifying Colors: black; yellow
Additional Descriptors: long, skinny, stinger, thighs, stinging, flying, harmful

North American Territorial 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

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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