BugFinder Insects by State Spiders Butterflies & Moths Bees, Ants, & Wasps Beetles All Bugs Videos (YouTube)

Banded Horntail (Urocerus gigas flavicornis)

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

Loading SVG image placeholder
Image Credit: Dan and Catie B. from Ketchikan, AK
Full-sized image of the Banded-Horntail Thumbnail image of the Banded-Horntail
Image Credit: Taken in Kelowna, BC
Full-sized image #2 of the Banded-Horntail Thumbnail image #2 of the Banded-Horntail

A Banded Horntail seems like its a mean wasp with a long, nasty stinger, but its looks don't do its passive nature justice.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Though adults appear menacing to humans, Banded Horntails are not aggressive and do not sting nor bite. Long, tubular bodies have prominent yellow bands at the end of the abdomen. The alarm coloration is often the precursor to unnecessary panic thanks to the stiff 'horntail' at the tip of the abdomen. Females have what appear to be two 'stingers'. The longer, syringe-like one is actually an ovipositor. This strong organ is used to punch holes into hard tree trunks and then inject eggs into the wood. The hope is that burying the eggs deeper into wood will offer them more protection. The larvae of Banded Horntails have enemies. They are sought out and eaten by the growing larvae of other parasitic wasps that were laid on the same tree trunk. If the Horntail larvae survive the hunt, they will feed on the interior wood of the tree, tunneling through vascular tissue, 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, boring as many holes and laying as many eggs as they can before dying. Adults only live for about 3 to 4 weeks. In that short life span, a female can lay over 300 eggs, each in their own hole. The whole life of a Banded Horntail, from larva to adult, can last 3 years.

Because this species prefers conifer trees like pine, it is not uncommon to see young adults indoors as they emerge from wood that was harvested years prior and used to build things (like furniture) while they were still developing larvae. The tunneling can impact the beauty of the wood, affecting its usability, so Horntails are generally considered a nuisance in the lumber industry. ©InsectIdentification.org

Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.InsectIdentification.org. It is the product of hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, educators, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at InsectIdentification AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.

General Characteristics

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

Taxonomic Hierarchy

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

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Urocerus gigas flavicornis
Other Name(s): Greater Horntail
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 40mm (0.47" to 1.57")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; brown
Descriptors: band; stripe; tail; spine; flying; harmless; wasp; clusters; wood wasp

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 12mm (0.5in) and 40mm (1.6in)
Lo: 12mm
Md: 26mm
Hi: 40mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Banded 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 Banded Horntail. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Sitemap
Beetle Identification Butterfly Identification Caterpillar Identification Spider ID Fungal Infections on Insects Nursery Web Spider Official State Insects Termite Basics Insect Molting Process Bugs of Tennessee House Centipede JoroSpider.org

2024 www.InsectIdentification.org • Content ©2006-2024 InsectIdentification.org • All Rights Reserved. The InsectIdentification.org logo, its written content, and watermarked photographs/imagery are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and is protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. Material presented throughout this website is for entertainment value and should not to be construed as usable for scientific research or medical advice (regarding bites, etc...).Please consult licensed, degreed professionals for such information. By submitting images to us (InsectIdentification.org) you acknowledge that you have read and understood our Site Disclaimer as it pertains to "User-Submitted Content". Images in JPG format are preferred with a minimum horizontal dimension of 1000px if possible. When emailing please include your location and the general estimated size of the specimen in question if possible. Please direct all inquiries and comments to insectidentification AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

©2024 www.InsectIdentification.org • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2006-2024 (18yrs)