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  • Banded Horntail - (Urocerus gigas flavicornis)

    Banded Horntail - (Urocerus gigas flavicornis)

    A Banded Horntail looks like a mean wasp with a nasty stinger, but its appearance does not correctly reflect its disinterested nature.

    Staff Writer (8/2/2017): The prominent yellow bands at the end of the stout abdomen of the Banded Horntail are easily overlooked thanks to the 'horntail' at the abdomen's tip. This type of wasp is known to be disinterested in humans and non-aggressive. Females have what appear to be two 'stingers'. The long, syringe-like one is actually an ovipositor. This strong organ is used to punch holes into hard tree trunks where eggs will then be laid. The hope is that burying the eggs deeper into wood will offer them more protection from predators. Though they appear menacing to humans, Banded Horntails have enemies. The Banded Horntail larvae are eaten by the growing larvae of other parasitic wasps that were also laid on the same tree trunk. If the horntail larvae survive, they will feed on the interior of the tree and eventually emerge as adults.

    Males have been seen clustering together at high ground while they wait for females to come and mate with them. This behavior is called "hilltopping". Once they have mated, adult females work tirelessly, living only about 3 to 4 weeks, boring as many holes and laying as many eggs as they can before dying. In that short life span, she can lay over 300 eggs, each in their own hole.

    Because this species prefers conifer trees like pine, it is not uncommon to see adults indoors as they emerge from wood that was harvested and used to build things while they were still inside developing. The whole life of a Banded Horntail, from larva to adult, can last 3 years.

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    Details of the:
    Banded Horntail

    Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
    Common name: Banded Horntail
    Scientific Name: Urocerus gigas flavicornis
    Other Names: Greater Horntail

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Acari
          Family: Siricidae
           Genus: Urocerus
            Species: gigas flavicornis

    Size (Adult, Length): 12mm to 40mm (0.47in to 1.57in)

    Identifying Colors: black, yellow, brown

    Additional Descriptors: spike, tail, spine, flying, harmless, wasp, clusters, woodwasp

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alaska; California; Colorado; Idaho; Montana; Nevada; New Mexico; North Dakota; Oklahoma; Oregon; South Dakota; Texas; Utah; Washington; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan

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

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