Today I’m deciding to highlight this Ichneumon wasp that Erin and I found during a recent trip to central Pennsylvania. One of the first things you may notice about this strange (to us!) insect is its extremely long ovipositor (the long stinger-like appendage that is about double the length of the body!) But why?
The ichneumon wasp is a parasitoid insect and that means that it will lay its eggs near, in, or on a host insect and when the eggs hatch the larval ichneumons feed on the body of its host which in this case is beetle larva which have the ability to burrow deep within the wood of trees or under the leaf litter on the forest floor. The larval ichneumon, being a parasitoid, will kill its beetle larva host. The adult ichneumon wasp, which feeds off of nectar, will use that long ovipositor to drill deep within wood or leaf litter to locate a beetle larva host and deposit its eggs.
Ichneumon wasps play an important role in the control of wood-boring beetle larva and their parasitoid reproductive strategy is part of the forest ecosystem maintaining a harmonic balance among its members.
The ichneumon is one among many insects to appreciate and value as we seek to live into community with all that has life in Jesus’ name.