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Pigeon Tremex (Tremex columba)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Pigeon Tremex, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 9/18/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Pigeon Tremex  
Picture of Pigeon-Tremex
Picture of Pigeon-Tremex Picture of Pigeon-TremexPicture of Pigeon-TremexPicture of Pigeon-TremexPicture of Pigeon-TremexPicture of Pigeon-Tremex

The non-aggressive Pigeon Tremex looks like a wasp, but is actually a horntail, which explains one of those two 'stingers'.

Although they look intimidating, the Pigeon Tremex is a horntail and is not naturally aggressive, unlike wasps. The thick, long 'stinger' is actually an ovipositor. Females have ovipositors that can be as long as their entire body. The ovipositor looks similar to a needle and is used by the female to inject her eggs through the tough bark of trees. This is a measure of safety for the eggs, helping ensure they hatch and are not eaten by birds or other insects patrolling the tree for dinner. In addition to the syringe-like ovipositor on females, both genders have an pointy, hard spine at the tip of their abdomen that resembles a spear tip. This gives females the appearance of having two 'stingers'.

They are commonly seen in hardwood forests and are a familiar sight to lumberjacks. The female dies immediately after laying her last egg, leaving her ovipositor stuck in the tree and becoming a potential meal herself.

There is only one Tremex species in North America. The larvae are actually victims of parasitism despite the measures the female takes to safeguard them. Female Ichneumon Wasps lay their own eggs in the bark also using an ovipositor of their own. When the wasp larvae hatch, they slowly eat the Pigeon Tremex larvae. Surviving larvae emerge as adults in the fall.

Picture of the Pigeon Tremex
Picture of the Pigeon Tremex

Pigeon Tremex Information

Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Common Name: Pigeon Tremex
Scientific Name: Tremex columba
Other Name(s): Horntail Wasp

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hymenoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Siricidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Tremex
       Arrow graphic Species: columba

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 18 mm to 37 mm (0.702 inches to 1.443 inches)
Identifying Colors: black; yellow; brown; red; orange
Additional Descriptors: spike, tail, stinger, flying

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Quebec; Mexico

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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