georgia's picture

Greater Horntail wasp

Observed: 6th July 2010 By: georgiageorgia’s reputation in Invertebrates
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Description:

I observed this huge 4" what i thought was a hornet last June. It flew directly onto my dad when we were out in the garden looking at it. Then it landed and wandered around on the bark mulch while i photographed it. Is it the Asian Hornet or a more local one??? Please comment. Thank you for the ID everyone!

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Greater Horntail Wasp (Urocerus gigas) interacts

Comments

Syrphus's picture

This is not a hornet, nor

This is not a hornet, nor even a wasp, though you are not the first to be misled (that is exactly what millennia of evolution intended). It is a harmless sawfly which does not have a sting (the evil-looking spike is the ovipositor). It nests in wood, and unless (as has apparently happened once or twice to some people) it mistakes you for a lump of timber you are quite safe. Even knowing that, it needs a fair bit of mental effort to pick up a black-and-yellow insect of that size.

Although some of the common names (this one and 'Wood Wasp') include 'wasp' it is best to stick to those that don't - Horntail is fine, as well as having the virtue of not being misleading.

M.

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recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on www.hbrg.org.uk/TRY.html.