Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ichneumon Wasp - Subfamily Campopleginae

Ichneumon Wasp - Subfamily Campopleginae
(Photo:  Marvin Smith on 4/17/09)




Ichneumon Wasp - Subfamily Campopleginae (Female)


The majority of Ichneumon Wasps resemble slender wasps but differ from the stinging wasps in having longer antennae with more segments (usually at least 16). Many have long ovipositors, often longer than the body.  There are around 5,000 species of Ichneumon Wasps described in North America.  Some estimate there are another 3,000 North American species as yet undescribed.  The worldwide species number estimate is 60,000.    Ichneumonids are notoriously hard to identify.

What BugGuide says about Subfamily Campopleginae:   They are koinobiont endoparasitoids; hosts are mostly Lepidoptera, Symphyta and a few attack Coleoptera.

 What that means:

Parasites live within or on a host without killing the host.  Parasitoids ultimately kill their hosts.  Koinobiont parasitoids allow the host to continue its development and often do not kill or consume the host until the host is about to either pupate or become an adult. Endoparasitoids develop inside the body of their host.

So ... A female campoplegine oviposits an egg inside the body of a host larva (a caterpillar, usually).  The host larva continues developing into a pupa.  The Ichneumon Wasp egg hatches into a larva which 1.) consumes the host and 2.) benefits from the protection provided by the host's pupal case.  Before the host pupa becomes an adult, the wasp larva finishes it off, emerges and form its own cocoon.  If all goes well, the Ichneumon larva will emerge from its cocoon as an adult wasp.  Campoplegine cocoons look something like a small speck of bird poop.  (Photo here.)  Hosts for this subfamily include butterflies and moths, sawflies and a few beetles.



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15 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Intersting wasp. It reminds me of the autobiography I read by Brend Heinrich. His Dad was major in (obcessed with) collecting this species and identifying them. Have you ever read any of Brend's books?
His is scientific yet has a way of writing that I like.

KaHolly said...

Thank you for putting it in more simple language for us amateurs! I've come across this phenomenon several times and find it fascinating. I always feel so sorry for the caterpillar! ~karen

Marvin said...

Lisa: I've never read Brend Heinrich. He sound like a good author to check out -- if I ever stayed off the computer long enough to read. :-)

Marvin said...

Karen: Yes, parasoidism is fairly common among insects. I've tried, but I find it very difficult to feel sorry for the tomato hornworms I sometimes find infested with Bracoid wasp larvae.

Teena in Toronto said...

I'm not a fan of bugs :(

I played too :)

eileeninmd said...

Interesting post and photo of the wasp.

Denise said...

That's an impressive looking wasp. Great close-up!

Lisa said...

Great shot -- but I kinda shuddered inside as I'm a bit freaked out by bugs. I applaud your bravery in getting the picture! :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

A greatly unstudied group this Marvin. Love the pic.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Interesting! Good capture.

Willard said...

Another very informative post, with a sharp, detailed photograph. Excellent work!

Crafty Green Poet said...

very interesting post and photo, i find wasps fascinating...

laughingwolf said...

can't think of a worse way to die than eaten alive... cancers do that.... :(

Lana Gramlich said...

There's something so revolting to me about wasps that lay their eggs in other insects' bodies. I mean, I know that nature's red in tooth & claw & I'm not generally squeamish or sensitive in that area, but wasp eggs in a host body, hatching & eating the host from the inside out...That's the plot of the most horrific movie that could ever be made.

WR said...

Nature has found so many interesting ways to keep a species moving forward in time. Pretty amazing stuff.