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The bizarre Wood Wasp


Unlike other wasp species, the Wood Wasp or Giant Horntail has no clear abdominal segmentation and instead has a long circular body. This is because it’s not strictly a wasp. More accurately a primitive member of the Wasp order ‘Hymenoptera’. Most people assume the large needle like form protruding from the Wood wasp is a stinger. This however is not the case as it is a modified and incredibly long ovipositor (egg laying tube). The common name – ‘Horntail’ is based upon this strong stinger like spike.

After pregnancy, when the female is ready to deposit her eggs, she’ll fly through the woods looking for suitable trees to lay in. Most often a pine tree. Once selected, her ovipositor sheath will contact the wood surface and begin to drill downwards before laying the eggs. The method in which the ovipositor drills with two parts moving in and out in synchronicity has been used to inspire future drilling technology design (biomimicry). Wood wasps create a symbiotic relationship with fungi, whereby the egg is deposited into the tree along with mucus and fungi. This fungus helps break the wood down, making it digestible to the newly hatched larvae in the tree.


Image: JesWoodhead Cropston - Giant Woodwasp | NatureSpot




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