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Parasitic Wasp

Parasitic Wasp
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2011-06-02
Categories: Insects
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 100
Exposure: f/4, 1/80 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): wasp-guêpe, Animals from my garden [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2011-07-10 7:56
Viewed: 7452
Points: 67
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Parasitic Wasp / Family Ichneumonidae

Before I continue with my series on the birds of the Kruger National Park, I would like to share this image of a parasitic wasp with you. I wrote to Prof. Mike Picker, author of the Field Guide to Insects of South Africa, hoping he could help me to identify this insect with its rather dangerous looking defence weapon.

His reply to me was as follow: "This insect is a parasitic wasp (family Ichneumonidae). They all lay their eggs into other insects (usually caterpillars), where they grow up, digesting and often killing the host. You can see the short egg-laying tube (ovipositer) on the female wasp in your image. Unfortunately I cannot give identifications beyond family for this insect."

If a specialist and learned person, that has written books about various insects has doubt to the correct identification of this striking insect, I am not going to waste time in playing the guessing game. I am therefore just going to give an overview on the family Ichneumonidae in general.

Maybe, just maybe, one of our Trek Nature members could be able to give more information on the insect. It would be appreciated if they'd share their knowledge.

Family Ichneumonidae

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Superfamily: Ichneumonoidea

The Ichneumonoidea are insects classified in the hymenopteran suborder Apocrita. The superfamily is made up of the ichneumon wasps (often 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 feeding 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 utilize polydnaviruses to suppress the immune system of the host insect.

Some members use many different insects as a host, 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 3mm-130mm long. Most are slender, with the females of many species (particularly in the genus Megarhyssa) having an extremely long ovipositor for laying eggs. The female finds a host and lays an egg on, near, or inside the host's body. Upon hatching, the larval ichneumon feeds either externally or internally, killing the host when they themselves are 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. Source

I hope you enjoyed looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

siggi, marius-secan, pegos, cirano, Mamagolo2, ciopper13, samiran88, maurydv, ramthakur, sranjan, ferranjlloret, lazyman, bungbing, Alex99 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • dmark11 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 195 W: 9 N: 655] (2633)
  • [2011-07-10 9:38]

Hi Anna,
This looks like a Giant Ichneumon Wasp - Megarhyssa macrurus.

Check this website out it might help a bit.


Nice Macro. It's nice to see you are interested in the Wildlife and not just the photos.
Sorry I am no longer giving points or posting pictures to this site any longer. The critiquing hypocrisy and the point hounds have gotten the better of me. Thanks for your nice comments on my previous pix. Have a great day.

hello Anna
Very nice picture with great details of this wasp
the colours and pose are beautiful
thanks Anna
greeting lou

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2011-07-10 9:57]

Hello Anna.
I like the shot,Very well composed with very good details in it,very good macro composition, with good pov and an exellent dof, very good job.Best regards Siggi

Hello Anna,
Impressive capture of a interesting species.
The composition is great with perfect focus.
Amazing details and very good sharpness as usual.
Wonderful contrast against the background.

  • Great 
  • pegos Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 222 W: 0 N: 356] (1982)
  • [2011-07-10 10:47]

hello Anna, beautiful image with natural colors and good definition. Very interesting information on this wasp.
Thanks for sharing

Ciao Anna, great macro of lovely wasp with beautiful shadow, excellent sharpness, fine details, splendid light and wonderful natural colors, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio

Ciao Anna. Excellent light here and very good colours so like details and sharp against the graphic BG.

Roberto .

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2011-07-10 11:17]

Hello Anna,
What a beautiful wasp and what a beautiful photo. Excellent sharpness, details and diagonal composition. Splendid colours with a very pleasing shadow on the leaf.

Hi Anna,
truly interesting species taken from a great point of view with lots of brightness, pleasant color saturation and good composition indeed. However...;) ...however it is obvious that the use of 1/80s has been a challenge for a hand held camera and as a result a camera shake has effected the sharpness of the image. I would suggest a bit more open aperture and ISO settings in order to avoid that negative element in the image, dear Anna! As usually your notes are very, very comprehensive! Bravo!
George Veltchev

  • Great 
  • cirano Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 997 W: 0 N: 944] (13609)
  • [2011-07-10 14:49]

Hello Anna,
Amazing light in the lovely compozition,nice colors and excellent sharpness.TFS.

Hi anna,
Beautiful wasp of family Ichneumonidae, here we have many similar, but are always difficult for shots, usually "fly before the picture!" :) Very good work with a great POV and a perfect management of light. Besides a very good documentation.
Regards, TFS

Hello Anna,
Fantastic! You are getting to be a real fundi with the macro's now. I see our little camera's really does it for me and you. I've hardly touched the new camera Marius bought me in May. Very well done and tfs my friend.

congratulations Anna for the picture, nice details and colors, nice composition too,
very interesting info,
have a nice day,

ciao, tino

A superb macro shot, very good sharpness, splendid bright colours, a very harmonious composition!

Very nice picture with great details of this wasp. composition and light is also very good.

Hello Anna,
Good perspective in the slanting light with the long shadow making a major contribution to the composition and the appeal of the image. The colours are beautiful and in good sharpness. A pleasant image to view. Well done and best wishes.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2011-07-15 2:45]

Hello Anna,
The lighting, POV against the smooth leaf, sharpness and natural colours all contribute to fine capture of this striking species of Ichneumon Wasp. The splayed out position of the legs look as though the wasp posed specially for you! Excellent composition too.
Thanks for sharing this beauty,
Have a great weekend,

Miss Piggy, this is a great shot of this wasp. You did a great job capturing it. Have a great day, Bill

Hallo Anna,
a very beautiful, interesting macro shot of this Parasitic Wasp, fine details and marvellous colours, excellent point of view for its great shade, a very good visual impact
Best regards

Very impressive macro of this very unique looking Wasp, Anna. I like the shadow of the insect adding a special appeal to the composition. The wide green leaf serves as a befitting background that intensifies the rich colours on the subject.
Thanks for sharing this lovely image.

Excellent Anna! This is a fine macro shot of wasp with great notes as ever :) Regards Subhash

nice diagonal capture, TFS Ori

Hi Anna,
Excellent details, colors, POV and exposure in this fine composition.

Great job and interesting note.

Hello Anna,

Seems like he is enjoying his own shadow..!
An impressive insect with many wasp characteristics, even it it doesn't quite look like them I know from here hehehe...
Pin sharp details in this fine close-up, the insect is well placed in the frame and colours are vivid and natural!

Pablo -

Hi Anna,
Your Sony is very versatile, does great macro shots as well.
Nice and sharp and I like the mirror effect of the shadow as well.
Keep well

Gracias por tus comentarios Anna. Estoy de acuerdo en lo que dices. En TN en algunas
ocasienes se tiende a ser muy técnico, olvidando en ocasiones la esencia de la naturaleza.

Bonita avispa... al menos lo parece aunque sea Ichneumonidae :0)

Un abrazo y a disfrutar: J. Ignasi.

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2011-07-18 19:03]

Hello Anna,
I was delighted to see your image of this colorful parasitic wasp. He is shown in fine detail and beautiful coloration. I love the shadow which makes his antenna look even longer then they really are.
As you have pointed out, sometimes things are not always what they first appear to be. The menacing looking stinger turns out to be a harmless egg laying device.
I have seen caterpillars many times that have been affected by these types of wasps. If you care to see what I mean check out this image.

hallo Anne,

an nice close up from this insect with good pov and sharpness.
This one i think i never been seen.
Fine colors.


Hi Anna,
excellent composition of this very interesting parasitic wasp,
TFS & best regards

Hello Anna,

Ichneumonidae is a very difficult family and often the species can't be identified just with a picture (microscope is often needed!).

That being said, I really like your picture of this one and especially the presence of its large shadow on the leaf. This Icheumon is very nice with very nice colors and patterns.

Nice shot and TFS,


Hello Anna,

You're capturing well this insect by a good composition, good focus and excellent tone, so it's impressive to see the insect with yellow, black striped pattern on brown body. It's good that this insect is standing on big green leaf in the point of visual effect. And, the shadow projected to leaf give additional effect for the whole, too.
Wonderful work!


  • Great 
  • rommel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 446 W: 0 N: 287] (3628)
  • [2011-07-21 23:51]

Hi Anna,
Sharp image,good exposure with excellent details.
Hope you both are well, best regards.

Hello Anna,
Very nice shot of this very interesting insect, very good sharpness details, excellent point of view, lovely natural colours and great composition,
Thanks for sharing and have a nice weekend,
Best Regards,

Yikes, I like the story more than the pictute, well almost. This is how its done. Great ID picture and superior story to accompany. Very nice Anna. I will not be viiting very soon:-)

Dear Anna,
strikingly powerful image! Dynamically composed in diagonal, with well saturated pleasantly contrasting colours in the sunlight. The shadow cast in front of the insect precisely repeating its shape is adding an emotional impact, a feeling of impatiently planning to do a leap forward. Beyond just presenting a parasitic wasp with an ovipositor that is very unlikely to work as an effective weapon of defense (but obviously looking dangerously enough to keep off potential predators), the image is vibrating with good optimistic spirits.
Thank you! With best regards,

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2011-08-11 4:18]

Hi Anna.
What a cute subject: attractive insect and so attractive its shadows. Both are crisp sharp. Sharpness and details of the leaf is also ultimate and diagonal composition is simply brilliant. Great 3D-close-up. My warm greetings and compliments.

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