6/14/2009 9:28 PM
Ichneumon (pronounced ik-new-mon) Wasps, often inaccurately called "Ichneumon Flies", are members of the hymenoptera family (which includes wasps, bees and ants) and are parasitic wasps. Parasitic wasps are considered beneficial to humans because they control populations of destructive agricultural pests such as aphids, beetles, caterpillars, flies, sawflies, scale insects and true bugs by the females of the species using their long tails (know as an ovipositors) to lay eggs within those destructive pests. When the Ichneumon’s eggs hatch, the wasp’s larvae eat the host pest from the inside – out, while the host is still alive! I wonder if the writers of the movie ALIEN! got their story idea from this wasp. A number of parasitic wasp species are commercially available from insectaries and are purchased and released in augmentative biological control programs. If you do not naturally have these beneficial little guys in your garden you can order them online.
This particular Ichneumon Wasp is about 1/8” of an inch long and sorry about the slight blurriness of the picture, but these little wasps “flit” around and do not stay in one place very long so even though there were dozens of them flying and landing on the leaves of my yellow gardenia (which is infected with scale), they are difficult subjects to photograph as they barely stay in one place long enough to focus on, press the button and photograph them! Oh, and unlike Paper Wasps, Bees and Hornets, they do not sting people so there is no need to be afraid of them if you see them on your plants. Further, if you have them on your plants do not spray insecticides as these Ichneumon Wasps are already hard at work controlling your destructive pest problem!
Copyright ©2009 Paul J. Erdek, FloridaGardener.com
By Scott on
3/20/2011 4:33 PM
Re: A Teeny, Tiny Beneficial Wasp
I cannot believe that Alien got its story line from Wasps. I must have watched that movie 100 times.