Sunday, 24 October 2010

Camera Critters #133

Earlier this month Barry spotted a little beastie in one of the hanging baskets by our front door. Can you see it? Let me help you.
It's still not very clear but fortunately the creature seemed camera shy and soon emerged from the shade of the ivy and made her way (for we found later that it was a female) down the door
frame.
 
We had never seen an animal like this before and thought she must be venomous. Look at the length of the pointy bit!
In fact, she is an Ichneumon wasp, and the thing that looks like a sting is her ovipositor. The black slip wasp, (Pimpla hypochondriaca) is the commonest of the 4000 or so  European ichneumon wasps. She is widespread in Europe and North Africa. She is 10 - 24 mm long and her ovipositor is half the length of her abdomen. She lays her eggs in butterfly and moth pupae and caterpillars.
Here she is running for cover in a crevice in the brickwork, her only phobia appearing to be the camera lens! Once we discovered that she was harmless, at least to humans, we found her rather attractive with her orange-red legs contrasting so sharply with her shiny dark apparel.
The name is a strange one - hypochondria is derived from the Greek hypo, meaning below, and chondros, the cartilage of the breast bone. In ancient times it was thought that this part of the abdomen, housing the liver, spleen and gall bladder, was the centre of melancholy, worry, fear and phobia. The Swedish entomologist, Anders Jahan Retzius, named this insect in 1783 - did he think she was a hypochondriac, suffering imaginary ills? 
Misty Dawn hosts this weekly meme - thank you, Misty! 

4 comments:

  1. I've read about these critters but never seen one or at least recognized it for what it was. Well spotted.

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  2. I've never heard of this creature. Thank you for sharing your pictures of her and the informative post.

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  3. Really great post - hoping to never seen one in person. lol :)

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  4. Interesting.
    I couldn't see her in either of the ivy photos until I read all about her and looked at her close-up photos, then went back. Then I could see her in the second picture, but not in the first.
    I like the harmless to humans part best. Good for you and Barry not to swat first and ask questions later.

    Kay, Alberta

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