Pelecinid Wasp

Gotta get insect posts out of my system before the real cold weather hits…! Actually, after it got down to 20ºF one night last week, the insects are already pretty much gone. You’ll notice the one in this post is, in fact, dead.

Spotted this critter dangling from a ledge next to my patio on Sunday afternoon. (There’s a spiderweb immediately above it, so my assumption is the spider killed it and was storing it here for future consumption.) I’d seen a couple of these in the woods before it got really cold, and man, did they look otherworldly – drifting along with that insanely long ovipositor dangling behind. I gathered that they were some kind of wasp, but the live ones I’d seen wouldn’t stay in one spot long enough to have their picture taken, so I was happy to find this dead one and get a better photo op and a chance for an ID.

Thanks to the folks at BugGuide, I now know that it’s a female Pelecinid wasp, Pelecinus polyturator. The long ovipositor is to stick down into the soil to lay their eggs on beetle grubs. Apparently in North America it’s very rare to see a male Pelecinid wasp; rather, they reproduce almost exclusively through parthenogenesis.

Also, in totally unrelated news, has everyone seen these photos of what researchers believe are dinosaur feathers in amber? Because they blew my mind a little big.

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