© All Rights Reserved. This image may not be copied, reproduced, published or distributed in any medium without my written permission.
Tamron 90mm macro lens
backyard, Melbourne, Australia.
Found this wasp looking insect sitting on the leaf of my Cape Gooseberry plant.
Thank you very much Carla Wick/Jandelle Petters for identifying this fascinating insect as one of the Ichneumonoidea species.
The Ichneumonoidea are insects classified in the hymenopteran suborder Apocrita. The superfamily is made up of the ichneumon wasps (sometimes inaccurately called “ichneumon flies”); family Ichneumonidae and the braconids (family Braconidae). Like other parasitic wasps, they were long placed in the “Parasitica”, variously considered as an infraorder or an unranked clade, but actually not a monophyletic group.
The superfamily Ichneumonoidea has been estimated to contain well over 80,000 different species. The ichneumon wasps are more familiar to non-entomologists, being larger and about three times as diverse as the braconids.
They are solitary insects, and most are parasitoids; the larvae feed on or in another insect which finally dies. Being in the same order, ichneumons are closely related to other hymenopterans, such as ants and bees.
Members of the family Ichneumonidae are usually larger than members of the Braconidae, and are distinguished primarily by details of wing venation. Many species in both families use polydnaviruses to suppress the immune systems of their host insects.
Some members use many different insects as hosts; others are very specific in host choice. Various ichneumons are used successfully as biological control agents in controlling pests such as flies or beetles.
Ichneumon wasp species are highly diverse, ranging from 3 to 130 mm (0.12 to 5.1 in) long. Most are slender, with the females of many species (particularly in the genus Megarhyssa) having extremely long ovipositors for laying eggs. The female finds a host and lays an egg on, near, or inside the host’s body.1 Upon hatching, the larval ichneumon feeds either externally or internally, killing the host when it is ready to pupate. Despite looking formidable, the ovipositor does not deliver a sting like many wasps or bees. It can be used by the wasps to bore into and lay eggs inside rotten wood.
An example is the parasitic wasp Ichneumon eumerus, which parasitizes the butterfly Phengaris rebeli.2 The adult wasp locates the P. rebeli by searching for Myrmica ants’ nests, the nests that the P. rebeli parasitize as larvae in order to get nutrition.2 They only enter the Myrmica ants’ nests which contain the P. rebeli caterpillar.2
Once inside, they oviposit their eggs directly inside the bodies of these caterpillars and manage to escape the nest as they release a chemical that causes the worker ants to fight each other rather than the intruder wasp.2 Once the wasps’ eggs hatch from the caterpillar’s body, the offspring feast on the caterpillar’s carcass.
Love these Creatures 11th January 2014
Bees and Wasps 13th January 2014
Breathtaking Wild Animals and Plants 20th January 2014
Breathtaking Wild Animals & Plants
International Women’s Photographer 20th Jan 2014
Winged Insect 9th Feb 2014
Backyard Macros and Closeups 16th Feb 2014