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LEXICON

 

 

Ichneumon Wasp

Flying insects in the family Ichneumonidae, and though not closely related to true flies, occasionally referred to as Ichneumon Flies, and due to their sometimes extremely curved abdomen also known as Scorpion Wasps, which should not be confused with the Scorpion Fly (fig.). There are many tens of thousands species, yet in general they have a slender waist, transparent wings, and bulbous compound eyes, and all are solitary. The name Ichneumon (ἰχνεύμων) is Greek  and means tracker. It derives from the fact that, akin to Spider Wasps (fig.) and Mud Daubers (fig.), Ichneumon Wasps track their prey, such as spiders and pupae of beetles or butterflies. At the posterior end of the abdomen, females have a spike-like ovipositor, which they use to deposit their eggs and which in some species doubles as a stinger used in defence. Most species then sting and paralyze, but not kill their prey, depositing their eggs on the surface or inside the prey's body, injecting the paralyzing venom along with the eggs, then carry the host to a hole which they seal off with mud, leaving the paralyzed victim as living food for the wasp's larva once they have hatched. See also Thread-waisted Wasp (fig.).