Horntail Wasps may look like they can deliver a wicked sting, but that stout syringe is actually for laying eggs.
Despite the warning colors, Horntail wasps are generally non-aggressive and (one source says) harmless. Adults drink nectar and water. Both genders of Horntail Wasp species have short spines at the tip of their abdomen, but females appear to have two menacing stingers. The thicker, longer one is actually an ovipositor. The ovipositor is a tube used by the female to directly inject eggs into tree trunks and other durable wood where they are less likely to be found and eaten by other insects. That sturdy spine aids in splitting the wood before the eggs are laid, placing them deeper into the protective tree trunk.
Larvae hatch inside the wood and then tunnel through it, emerging as adults. Despite the female's efforts to use deep wood to protect her Horntail larvae, they get eaten by the larvae of other tree-savvy parasitic wasps that have also hatched in the same tree. Those Horntail Wasps that survive will emerge from the tree in their adult form. If the tree gets harvested and used for building material before then, it is not unusual to see these adults inside homes or buildings when they finally come out of the wood.
Scientific Name: Urocerus spp.
Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 40mm (0.70in to 1.56in)
Note: 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 as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Ant, Bee, and Wasp Anatomy
Antennae: Ants and Bees both have a pair of antennae on the head that senses their surroundings.
Head: The head contains the insect's compound eyes, antennae, and mandibles.
Thorax: Contains various vital parts such as the aorta and nervous system.
Abdomen: Contains various organs including the heart, gut, venom glands, and anus.
Legs: Ants and Bees have three pairs of legs attached to the thorax (center-body section).
NOTE: Ants, Bees and Wasps are part of the Hymenoptera order because they share many similarities.