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Giant Ichneumon Wasp: Long-tailed (Megarhyssa macrurus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Ichneumon Wasp: Long-tailed



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Image Credit: Janine R. taken in Camp Hill, PA
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Image Credit: Gary W.
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Image Credit: Meghan M. from Perry County, OH
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Image Credit: Donna S. taken in Leeds, AL
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Image Credit: DAJ and KPJ from TX
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Image Credit: Casey B. from East Dundee, IL
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Image Credit: Donna S. taken in Leeds, AL
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Females with long syringe-like ovipositors may strike fear in humans, but these 'tails' are designed to bring forth life, not ruin someone's day.



Updated: 07/06/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Ovipositors on females Giant Ichneumon Wasps double the length of the actual wasp. The skinny, tube-like ovipositor is not a stinger and cannot sting. It is somewhat flexible near the abdomen, but rigid enough at its tip to pierce tree bark and wood allowing the female to deposit her fertilized egg inside of the tree and not on it. Two benefits of this are protection for the eggs from the elements and predators, and close proximity to a food source. This species of wasp is actually a parasite of another species of wasp, the Pigeon Tremex, a type of Horntail that also injects its eggs into tree bark. The Giant Ichneumon female searches for holes that already harbor a Horntail larva. She will then inject her egg on it, or next to it. Her larva will feed on the Horntail until it is ready to pupate. Winged adults emerge from the tree.



General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Insect stinger icon
Striped or banded insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Ichneumonidae
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          Genus: Megarhyssa
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            Species: macrurus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Megarhyssa macrurus
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 29mm to 51mm (1.14" to 2.00")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red, yellow, black
Descriptors: long, tail, stinger, thread, needle, syringe, stick, tree, v, angles, stripes, flying
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 29mm (1.1in) and 51mm (2.0in)
Lo: 29mm
Md: 40mm
Hi: 51mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Giant Ichneumon Wasp: Long-tailed 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 Giant Ichneumon Wasp: Long-tailed. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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