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Long-tailed Giant Ichneumon Wasp

Megarhyssa macrurus


This beautiful wasp is a deep amber color, with yellow and black markings covering its body. The wasp's body is about 1.5 inches long, and the ovipositor of the female is about 3 inches long (this one's is slightly longer than 3 inches). To quote a friend, "It looks like a Balrog that got hit with a sneeze of tie-dye."


Forests, fields, etc. in North America. Near dead trees where horntail wasp larvae occur.


Don't freak out! While this wasp looks menacing, it is harmless to humans. It has one of the longest ovipositors you're ever going to see, but it uses it to drill into wood, where it parasitizes the larvae of horntail wasps (Tremex columba). This female was found on a dead tree that I was drawn to after spying a large mushroom growing from the wood. When I arrived to take pictures of the mushroom, I looked above it and this wasp was staring back at me. I jumped back out of surprise, and started yelling out of sheer joy: I had been looking for a female of this species since May, all I had been finding all summer were the males! It's difficult to describe the beauty of this wasp using just words and still pictures, I highly recommend seeing it in action. It looks extremely powerful pumping its ovipositor through the wood, simply magnificent.

The wasp was content to watch me while I took pictures, and after a long day of searching for assassin bugs and coming up empty-handed, this was a welcome surprise. Found at Barbara A. Beiser Field Station.

No species ID suggestions

29 Comments (1–25)

Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander 4 years ago


AdamBrown 5 years ago

so bizzare....and cool.. great photos and story behind it.

DoraAnderson 6 years ago

Very cool! Great shot!

Ismael Chaves
Ismael Chaves 6 years ago

Latimeria do you have any idea of the ID of this spotting

AnneSorbes 6 years ago

Magnificent Ichneumon!

IrmaFelicitas 6 years ago

MARAVILLOSO INSECTO. Muy buena fotografía.

DavidSantos 6 years ago


LauraMaria 6 years ago

Wow, what an incredible insect!! That first photo in phenomenal. Nice spotting!!

Raiyan Ahmed
Raiyan Ahmed 6 years ago

This is one amazing spotting!!

Latimeria 6 years ago

Thanks everyone! I'm glad more people are able to see this spotting--it goes to show that there are some surprising creatures out there!

VivBraznell 6 years ago

Fabulous shots of a beautiful insect......... How lucky for you to spot it and how lucky for us to share it! Thank you : )

Atul 6 years ago


AnuwatMooKramkeaw 6 years ago

very nice pic!

JoseLopez2 6 years ago

Wow, first time seeing this type of wasp anywhere. It is simply unbelievable! Thank you very much for your find.

Carolina 6 years ago


Rugle 6 years ago

Wow it's really intimidating. Congrats !!

Yasser 6 years ago

Congrats Derek for a well-earned Spotting of the Day!


Latimeria 6 years ago

Thanks everyone! I was very fortunate to find this wasp, I was only drawn to the tree because of the mushroom. Goes to show you how important serendipity is!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 6 years ago

what beautiful markings and what a body ! - it is also a great photograph...thanks

textless 6 years ago

Spectacular shots, really well done.

Carolina 6 years ago

Wow! Crazy wasp!

lynne.warren 6 years ago

very cool

craigwilliams 6 years ago

Fantastic - both the wasp and your photos! Thank you

Pino 6 years ago

I'm amazed ! Thx a lot for this stunning share.

Yasser 6 years ago

Great photos of a beautiful wasp!

Ohio, USA

Lat: 39.42, Long: -81.36

Spotted on Sep 22, 2011
Submitted on Nov 25, 2011

Spotted for mission

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