bobthebirder's picture

Ichneumon - unknown species

Observed: 8th August 2009 By: bobthebirderbobthebirder is knowledgeable about Invertebratesbobthebirder’s earned reputation in Invertebratesbobthebirder’s earned reputation in Invertebratesbobthebirder’s earned reputation in Invertebratesbobthebirder’s earned reputation in Invertebrates
ichneumon
Description:

I often see these flying around with their legs trailing, but have never managed to photograph one before. This one seemed to be feeding on the nettle leaf, scraping or licking something off the surface.

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

Jonathan's picture

What a fearsome beast! They

What a fearsome beast! They are parasitoids, aren't they, so it seems a bit odd that it would be feeding on the nettle leaf. Also, being a male, it won't be looking for a victim in which to lay an egg (I wonder what this parasitises anyway?). Can anyone enlighten this mystery?

Jonathan
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

bobthebirder's picture

parasitoids

Technically only the larvae are parasites; the adults presumably still need to feed while they are searching for a host (in the case of the females) or a female (in the case of the males).

Bob Ford

Martin Harvey's picture

guesses

A spectacular insect, wish I knew what it is! I think adult ichneumons will feed on nectar and similar sweet substances, so this one may be picking up honey-dew off the leaf surfaces - or perhaps it is 'sniffing out' signs of caterpillar activity, e.g. if it preys on nettle-feeding caterpillars. I'm not confident of saying this is definitely a male, not all female ichneumons have the obvious, long ovipositor.

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Entomologist and biological recorder