Ichneumon wasp (Ophion luteus)

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Ichneumon wasp fact file

Ichneumon wasp description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderHymenoptera
FamilyIchneumonidae
GenusOphion (1)

This slender parasitic wasp has a yellowish or orange coloured body with a distinctive ‘waist’ (2) and a very short ovipositor(3). They are sometimes mistakenly called flies, but they are wasps, with two pairs of clear membranous wings (3) and long antennae(4). There are 1200 species of ichneumon wasp in Britain alone (3) and this is the largest family of insects known, with over 60,000 species worldwide (4).

Also known as
red ophion.
Size
Length: 20 mm (2).
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Ichneumon wasp biology

Ichneumon wasps are parasitoids; females lay their eggs on a caterpillar and the wasp larva burrows into and develops inside this host, eating its internal tissues and eventually killing it after it pupates. The adult ichneumon flies emerge from the remains of the dead host and are active at night (1) (2). Two generations are produced each year; the adults of the first generation are present from May to June, those of the second generation from November to December (1).

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Ichneumon wasp range

Common in Britain (1). Species belonging to the genus Ophion are found around the world (5).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Ichneumon wasp habitat

Ophion species are found in a wide range of habitats, but tend to occur in woodlands and farmland (5).

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Ichneumon wasp status

Not threatened.

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Ichneumon wasp threats

This species is not threatened at present.

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Ichneumon wasp conservation

Conservation action has not been targeted at this common species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more on invertebrates see Buglife, the invertebrate conservation trust:
http://www.buglife.org.uk/

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Antennae
Pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates.
Larva
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Ovipositor
Egg-laying organ in female insects consisting of outgrowths of the abdomen (the hind region of the body in insects). The stinging organ and poison sac of worker bees and non-reproductive female wasps is a modified ovipositor.
Parasitic
Describes organisms that derive their food from, and live in or on, another living organism at the host’s expense.
Parasitoid
If a parasite kills the host it is commonly called a parasitoid.
Pupates
Forms a pupa, the stage in an insect’s development when huge changes occur that reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January2004): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn
  2. British Wildlife Guide (February 2004): http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/wildlife/insects_yellow_ophion.html
  3. Earthlife Net (February 2004): http://www.earthlife.net/insects/parasit.html
  4. Illinois Natural History Survey (February 2004): http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/chf/outreach/good/card22.htm
  5. National Wildlife Federation- E-Nature (February 2004): http://www.enature.com/fieldguide/showSpeciesSH.asp?curGroupID=4&shapeID=1008&curPageNum=3&recnum=IS0008
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Image credit

Head portrait of ichneumon wasp  
Head portrait of ichneumon wasp

© Jacques Rosès / Biosphoto

Biosphoto
19 Rue du Vieux Sextier
Avignon
84000
France
Tel: +33 (490) 162 042
Fax: +33 (413) 416 110
http://www.biosphoto.com/

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