Common Names: Ichneumon Wasp, Ichneumon.
Scientific Name: Order Hymenoptera, family Ichneumonidae, many species
Size: Adult - 1/10" to 1 1/2"
Identification: The largest of the parasitoid wasps. Tan, brown, or black wasps with big, slender bodies and long antennae. Some species have long thin ovipositors (for egg laying), often mistaken for stingers. Distinctly thin waists and long legs. Larvae are tapering white grubs that are parasitic on other insects.
Biology and Life Cycle: Adults lay eggs in host insects such as caterpillars, sawflies, beetle larvae, and others. Female adults also control insects by killing them and sucking their juices. Overwinter as mature larvae in cocoons. Several generations per year. Complete metamorphosis--eggs, larvae, pupae, adults. Distinctive cocoons sometimes colored or striped. Some adults sting and some don't.
Habitat: Natural gardens, forests, and fruit orchards.
Feeding Habits: Larvae feed on insect hosts like corn borers, corn earworms, cabbage maggots, asparagus beetles, moths, and sawfly larvae.
Economic Importance: These beneficial wasps control several troublesome insects and are highly beneficial.
Natural Control: Insectivorous animals.
Organic Control: None needed.
Insight: This is the largest family of insects. Attract them by planting pollen and nectar-producing flowers such as wild carrots and yarrow. These extremely beneficial insects should be protected. They are important to the lumber industry. The adults of some species can penetrate through an inch of wood and deposit their eggs directly on a wood-boring larva.