The female Giant Ichneumon Wasp may look threatening but she cannot sting and is harmless to humans.
If you look near a dying maple tree in the fall, chances are, you will come across a female giant ichneumon wasp. The scary looking two inch needle like appendage is not a stinger but an ovipositor used for laying eggs. She is a parasite wasp and her mission is to lay her eggs in the Pigeon Tremex Horntail larvae growing deep inside the tree.
How does a tiny insect accomplish such a task? By walking up and down the tree using her antennae to sense the vibrations of the larvae. Once they are located, she will insert her ovipositor into the tree to paralyze and lay her eggs inside the host. This is a lengthy process and can take up to a few hours to complete. During this time, she is vulnerable to predators and occasionally the ovipositor will get stuck in the tree making her into an easy meal. When the eggs hatch, they will feast on the larvae, pupate, then bore a hole into the tree bark and repeat the cycle.
If this all sounds fascinating, watch the video below to see the entire process unfold.