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).
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).
Pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates.
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.
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.
Describes organisms that derive their food from, and live in or on, another living organism at the host’s expense.
If a parasite kills the host it is commonly called a parasitoid.
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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