The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Wherein I swoon over a pretty parasitoid (and my awesome wife)

I must say this: being married to a woman who will rip apart rotting logs with her bare hands in order to help you find bugs whilst on a walk in the woods….well, frankly, it rocks. 

This is what she found in one: 

An Ichneumonid wasp

 It’s a very pretty Ichneumonid wasp.  It was nestled in a small cavity near the centre of the log; perhaps it crawled up in there in the fall to overwinter.  The bright yellow bars on the long antennae are a good clue to the family, but I haven’t the foggiest what species it is.  I’ve submitted the photos to BugGuide for help with the ID.   These wasps are very cool in a Ripley-meets-drooling-aliens kind of way…they lay their eggs in the body of a host (a caterpillar or spider, say); their offspring, once hatched, eat the host from the inside out.  Gory, yes.  Also very cool. 

When my beloved asked me if I wanted to keep it to pin later, and I declined, she declared it was too nice to leave behind and that she would keep it for herself.  For her own collection.  



How did I get so lucky?

30 responses to “Wherein I swoon over a pretty parasitoid (and my awesome wife)

  1. christie March 7, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    That’s pretty bad ass. We’ll be doing some tromping through the woods soon, messing around in the garden and such. I bought a bunch of field guides so I can photograph and identify. And the fact that she will tear into rotting logs? For bugs? That is double awesome. My husband will only go so far, then he’s all “I ‘m not messing with that” then I have to enlist a child for help. I am really loving your pictures, btw.

  2. TGIQ March 7, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    Not only does this woman tear through logs with her bare hands, she KEEPS doing it even after I tell her all the “sawdust” is actually frass (bug poop). Swoon x 100.

    Enjoy your tromping and photographing and ID-ing…and be sure to share!

  3. Ted C. MacRae March 7, 2010 at 7:17 PM

    My wife catches something for me every now and then – but she’s never pinned up something herself (swoon!).

  4. Pete Yeeles March 8, 2010 at 6:48 AM

    My wife is actually becoming more and more interested in the various critters I am constantly yabbering about. We had a huge number of tiger beetles fly to our outside lights the other day (something I’ve not seen before – you would have been amazed Ted), and not only did she alert me to them, but got quite excited when I put one under the microscope to let her have a look!

    I’m even more proud of my 2 year old! Currently, he can identify a gra-hobber, pie-dee (spider), bud-fly, fly, at (ant), bee, mantis, stick (-insect), and best off all… a beetoo (beetle). All unaided – I’m quite happy about it!

    • TGIQ March 8, 2010 at 8:13 AM

      While I have no kids of my own, I’m working on corrupting…er, I mean teaching…my nephews. So far the eldest ones (2.5, 3) seem to have very strong, and completely perplexing “ew, nature” reflexes…the kids don’t like getting dirty! Or having bugs nearby! What is wrong with their parents!?!?!? I see glimmers of hope in some of the younger ones, so all hope is not yet lost.

      • Ted C. MacRae March 8, 2010 at 10:54 AM

        Don’t despair – it’s a mix of nature vs. nurture. My oldest daughter looked like she’d be a natural when she was young – no fear of anything creepy and loved going out with me. Now she couldn’t care less about anything that doesn’t involve makeup, clothes, or boys. The youngest daughter, on the other hand, was deathly afraid of anything that crawled, flew, or lurked. She has become my best field bud!

  5. jason March 8, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    OMG! I’ve been trying to ID that species since last year. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who thinks they’re stunning but who can’t put a name with the face.

    And I’m laughing uproariously about all the swooning. You guys are too funny!

    • TGIQ March 8, 2010 at 11:58 AM

      Do you have any pics, Jason? How far did you get on the ID? Where did you find yours?

      And the swooning is MOST warrented 😛

      • jason March 8, 2010 at 12:08 PM

        I do have photos, I found and photographed my lively version here in Dallas, TX, it was on April 16, 2009, and I narrowed it down to a tribe (Cratichneumon). I hadn’t looked it up in a few months and might be using old info with that. Did you get further than tribe? Or did you get different results at that level? I want to know what it is!

      • jason March 8, 2010 at 12:15 PM

        Sorry! Genus, not tribe. English is my first language even though that’s not always obvious.

      • jason March 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM

        If it helps, yours is a male. The one I photographed is a female, though the abdomen is the main difference between the two.

        • TGIQ March 8, 2010 at 1:11 PM

          Ha. We’ve been calling him a “her” because it seemed, well, girly for some reason.

          There is NOTHING in the literature on this genus. I’ve got one account of the group from Belarus…not so helpful. Blarg.

          • jason March 8, 2010 at 1:27 PM

            I never posted the photos I have because they’re not very good. I was unwilling to cross a river of fire ants to get closer to the wasp (ant stings and I mix with the same grace as petroleum fumes and open flame–and for me, the result is equally explosive and threatening). Still, let me process these images and see if I can get some posted that don’t look like the regurgitated swill of drunken sailors. You’ll see the abdominal differences that indicate gender.

            But other than that, I have to look to others to be my experts. I’m a commoner with no training who does his best to accurately ID what is seen. When it comes to expertise, though, I have none. So don’t be lettin’ me down here, dude! (Or at least do so gently. I’m a sensitive guy, after all.)

            • TGIQ March 8, 2010 at 1:42 PM

              Tell you what…I’ll have a look at my school’s entomology collection…it’s pretty extensive…I’ll see what I can find. There’s really good representation of the Ichneumonidae…so I might have some luck. Send the pics, and I’ll bring them with me…

              You’ll have to wait until later this week for any news, though…:-P (Gentle enough?)

              • jason March 8, 2010 at 2:00 PM

                Gentle enough to be noted in the annals of history. You’re my hero!

                Seriously, I’m sending you the photos I have. Keep in mind they’re unprocessed–raw as it were. I really hope they help.

                • jason March 9, 2010 at 8:16 AM

                  I reversed the genders. Did it with conviction, too, but wrongfully: you did photograph a female and mine was a male. I had it right in my head but my fingers disagreed, hence…

                  • TGIQ March 9, 2010 at 8:55 AM

                    Now, see, I THOUGHT ours was a female…she’s got a sticky-outy at the rear which I assumed to be an ovipositor…

                    Tell your fingers to get with the program, Jason. 😛

  6. MObugs41 March 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Oh to have a spouse that loves the bug world as much as you do! What would I give? My husband thinks I’ve lost my mind, in fact he is pretty certain I have. I can’t help but feel sorry for him, after all he is missing out on so much fun. I get to act like a kid all in the name of science….it doesn’t get any better!

    • TGIQ March 8, 2010 at 4:14 PM

      Perhaps he will come around eventually? I think mine was more bemused than keen way back when we first met, but she’s definitely gotten “the bug”, so to speak…

  7. myrmecos March 8, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    Being married to just such a woman myself, I couldn’t agree more. She took me out ant-collecting on the day we met. Haven’t looked back since.

    Nice wasp photo, too.

  8. TGIQ March 10, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Bad news, Jason…

    99% of the Cratichneumon spp. in our collection are in the “unsorted” boxes. I feel confident in confirming the genus ID, but can’t help past that. 😦

    Is there a hymenopterist in ‘da house?

    • jason March 13, 2010 at 4:00 PM

      No matter, C. I appreciate you looking into it. You certainly have better access than I to more recent info, so I’m grateful you took the time to investigate it. Thank you!

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