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Asian Horntail (Eriotremex formosanus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Asian Horntail

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Image Credit: Glen C.
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Fine hairs on the Asian Horntail and a host plant preference diet separate it from other horntails.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Asian Horntail was accidentally imported in the 1970s where it was likely embedded in wood as larvae and pupae when it was shipped from Asia. It is most commonly found in the coastal states of the southeastern U.S. where it rapidly expanded upon arrival, though it was reported in Utah, too. It is not considered a serious pest thanks to its use of trees that are already dead or dying. Unlike other horntails, this species prefers to use deciduous trees as host plants instead of conifers. Oak, sweetgum, and hickory trees are common hosts. Though the Asian Horntail does not attack healthy trees, care is being taken to discourage its expansion across the region. It does not have any known predators that could help control its numbers should the insect ever change how it chooses host plants. For now, slowing the spread of the Asian Horntail by teaching prudent firewood practices is underway. Little is known about its life history despite decades of its presence in North America.

The appearance of the female Asian Horntail is unique. Males are rarely seen and may have variations in how much yellow color they have on their bodies. Unlike native horntails, the female's abdomen has a ring of fine hairs that encircle it. The long black abdomen has yellow rings on it. More fine hairs may also cover other parts of the body. A bright yellow thorax sits just behind the head. Legs have wide yellow and black bands on them. Her thick ovipositor at the tip of the abdomen looks like a syringe, and she uses it to inject fertilized eggs into trees. Like other horntails, the larvae probably tunnel in or around the wood inside as they grow.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Siricidae
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          Genus: Eriotremex
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            Species: formosanus

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Eriotremex formosanus
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 28mm to 30mm (1.10" to 1.18")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; red
Descriptors: hairy; tail; hairs; flying; big; banded; tinted wings

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 28mm (1.1in) and 30mm (1.2in)
Lo: 28mm
Md: 29mm
Hi: 30mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Asian Horntail may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Asian Horntail. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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