21 June 2009
Ichneumon wasp - in the groove
The ichneumon wasp is a remarkable predator; the photos above emphasize the extraordinary size of the ovipositors. The female lays her eggs inside insect grubs that are burrowing below the bark of a tree. One can't help but be awed by her ability not only to detect the precise position of her victim, but to force the ovipositor through several inches of dense wood (to my knowledge, no one yet has explained how the latter task is achieved).
This is the creature that caused Charles Darwin to doubt the benevolence of God: "I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars..."
The lady above was clever enough to make her approach through a saw cut in what I believe was an oak stump; starting in that groove saved her an additional quarter inch of drilling. She was fully occupied and didn't mind my placing the camera lens right next to her for a macro view.
Photographed yesterday at the delightful Pleasant Valley Conservancy, located between Black Earth and Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin.
Both photos enlarge to fullscreen with a click.