Alien Insect Invasion
You would think that in my 50 some years of life, and being the outdoorsman that I am, I would have seen this creature before. Walking to the barn one day to feed the animals, I happened to glance at the pile of firewood randomly stacked behind the concrete block outbuilding that is situated halfway between the house and the barn. Crawling on the flat saw cut face of a piece of elm was an alien looking insect that I had never seen before, ever! It resembled a wasp, I thought, but the very first thing I thought of was it has to be some sort of mutation. Thoughts of toxic soil and contaminated ground water entered my brain and after a brief pause while bouncing off the walls of logic in my head, quickly moved on. What was this thing? It was about 3-4 inches long with a slender, contorted body that was striped with alternating yellow and brown colors. Its long spiny legs and extensive probing stinger are probably what invoked the impressions in my mind of an alien creature. I was thinking “War of the Worlds” creature. I’ll admit I was a little concerned , that if this was an aggressive insect, I was a little too close.
It turns out that this was an Ichneumonid wasp. They are actually beneficial parasitic insects. They use the appendage that I thought was a stinger to bore into wood and deposit eggs into or near the larvae of various moths and worms which are plant pests. This stinger is called an ovipositor. Once the egg hatches the wasp larvae feed on the pest larvae. They have been used as a biological agent to control pests.
Fear is gone, thanks to Google and those gardeners and entomologists who publish informative articles.
- Beneficials in the landscape: #36 Ichneumonid wasps
Beneficials in the Garden: Ichneumonid wasps