First, if you haven’t yet, go look at An Inordinate Fondness #2. Hurry quick! Do it now! Beetles! And Beatles! ZOMG!
I finally have a name to go with the face of my wife’s mystery wasp!
Dr. Bob Carlson, specialist of Ichneumonidae and BugGuide contributer, has identified her as Aoplus confirmatus. I am quite pleased that she is the first record of this species on BugGuide. Yay!
Armed with a name, I have Googled, and I have learned. Behold:
Adult hibernation in wasps is generally an oddity, but it is a characteristic of a number of Ichneumonid species (the parasitoid wasp family to which our pretty belongs).
If you encounter a hibernating Icheumonid, you can bet your bippy it’s a female; the males almost always die in the fall after mating, and gravid (egg-filled) females wait until the spring to deposit their eggs in a host.
These pretty parasitoids can be quite picky about their winter digs…for example, some prefer hidey-holes under loose bark, others under moss on felled trees, and some like cavities in stumps created by other insects. On a larger scale, they seem to like more sheltered, low-to-the-ground terrain, rather than open spaces.
The frequency with which it is possible to encounter these interesting adult wasps during the cold, bug-less months makes them an ideal wintertime study subject. As a matter of fact, a wasp enthusiast may have more luck tracking down some species as they slumber in their hibernacula than during warmer months using more traditional trapping methods (sweeping, pan traps, Malaise traps etc.)
And lastly, a personal aside for Jason: “Yay!”
Cool (ha!) Reference: Hibernating Ichneumonidae of Ohio (Dasch, 1971)