Montana Public Radio


Bug Bytes: Giant Ichneumon Wasps

Jun 16, 2020
Glenn Marangelo

Learning to identify different wasp species can be challenging, but it’s not brain surgery.

Well…actually, in this case it just might be.

We’re talking about giant ichneumon wasps – a genus of only four species in North America. Females range from 3-4 inches in length, including what appears to be a long, massive stinger. While intimidating looking, they’re harmless. This stinger is actually an ovipositor, used for laying eggs.


Nectarless orchids are masters of mimicry and can appear and smell identical to other nectar-rich orchids. Thus, they draw pollinators into their flower, and then the forced pollination begins. Certain orchids shoot sticky balls of pollen at their pollinators. Others are known to intoxicate the pollinators so that they fall into a chamber inside, and in taking the path out, they become covered in pollen.

Ichneumon wasp
Glenn Marangelo - Missoula Insectarium

Glenn Marangelo from the Missoula Insectarium will be on "Pea Green Boat" on Thursday, July 28 to teach us about Ichneumon Wasps and Robber Flies. 

All other insects should beware the robber fly! These incredibly fast and agile predators can easily capture most other flying insects for a meal.

Ichneumon wasps may look a little scary, but luckily have no interest in humans. They have an amazing ability to to locate the larvae of wood-boring horntail wasps. How and why? You'll need to tune in to find out.

Learn more on "Pea Green Boat" Thursday at 4:00 p.m. Listen on your radio, or online.