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Ichneumon Wasps (Various spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Ichneumon Wasps



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The family of Ichneumon Wasps is so vast and varied, many have not yet been given scientific names let alone common ones.



Updated: 07/06/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Ichneumon Wasps are typically non-aggressive, non-threatening wasps that are often spotted in or around woodlands and forests, near log stacks, or by plants. Many females have a long, syring-like ovipositor that looks a lot like a stinger, but this appendage is used to inject eggs deep into wood. In some species, short ovipositors may have stinging capability, but this type of wasp is usually disinterested in people that let it be. Some species show sexual dimorphism, where the male and female look slightly different from each other. As larvae, Ichneumon Wasps are common parasites of caterpillars and sawfly larvae (which look a lot like caterpillars).

There is great diversity in size, color, and pattern throughout the family. Species exist that are as small as a fingernail. Others are large and conspicuous. Some are steely black, while others are mostly orange. Many have yellow, orange, or red bands on the abdomen as one would expect in a wasp, and it is not uncommon to find a dot or mark on the thorax. Most have a yellow or white band on each antenna, which is comprised of many segments.

There are many unidentified species, and many that cannot be identified by just a photograph. These Ichneumon Wasps can still be enjoyed, however, and perhaps even more so, thanks to that little bit of mystery.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
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: Various
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 40mm (0.11" to 1.57")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; orange; red; white
Descriptors: flying; ovipositor; stinger; syringe; banded; wasp; long antennae; long abdomen; long body; bendable; colorful
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 3mm (0.1in) and 40mm (1.6in)
Lo: 3mm
Md: 21.5mm
Hi: 40mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Ichneumon Wasps 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 Ichneumon Wasps. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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