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Small ichneumon - Delomerista - male

Small ichneumon - Delomerista - Male
Marin County, California, USA
April 24, 2010
Size: 11 mm body length
This small ichneumon was visiting a flowering oak tree.

Images of this individual: tag all
Small ichneumon - Delomerista - male Small ichneumon - Delomerista - male

Moved from Ichneumon Wasps.

If I had known it would have been a new tribe for BG I would have been a little more careful transferring the female I caught to a vial (she got away while I was removing her from the net).

What reason do you have for supposing the female that got away was conspecific with the male?

One way to keep a specimen from escaping is to grasp the specimen with the forefinger and thumb and the net fabric and hold it while the vial is inserted into the net with the other hand. The agent in my vial is 95% ethanol, which I recommend for killing and preserving Ichneumonidae prior to mounting. Townes, though, had a unique method for removing specimens from the net; he would put his hand inside the net and grasp the specimen between his forefinger and thumb, gently rolling the specimen back and forth between his fingers to prevent it from positioning the abdomen to sting as he would insert it into the cyanide bottle. Some ichneumonids can deliver a potent sting, but he also used this method with aculeates, even Pepsis, but he would occasionally be unsuccessful in avoiding the sting. I never felt brave enough to try his method.

Re: -
It looked exactly like the one above (maybe slightly heavier-bodied), complete with the light blue coloration under the abdomen that's not really visible in the photos, but had a stout ovipositor on it that was perhaps 3-4 mm long. It had to have been either the same species or a closely-related species in the same genus. They were collected from the same tree as well.

I just grabbed the female with my fingers like I do with most ichneumons... It seemed to be unable to sting due to its small size and comparative stoutness of the ovipositor, but I guess I shouldn't rule the possibility out that it could have stung (if only with perfect positioning and whatnot). With most wasps I can tell what they are pretty quickly and I just put the killing jar over the net and screw on the cap as far as it will go with the netting there, but this wasp was very small and I wanted to get a good look at it before putting it in the killing jar (to avoid killing something common unnecessarily). It escaped when I was trying to put it in the killing jar with my fingers... Next time I'll know better.

Re Female
Sounds like you did have the female. The female would differ in coloration from the male in having a black face, but it would have the same distinctive color pattern on the hind tibia. Incidentally, males of most North American species can only be identified to species through association with a female of its species (e.g. reared together or collected mating or in close proximity).

As for stinging, the female would try (the male would too) but wouldn't have the power to penetrate human skin, but as I mentioned elsewhere on BugGuide, one Secret Service officer had a severe reaction to a sting of a species of Pimpla and brought the specimen to the Smithsonian for identification many years ago. It had stung him after getting trapped in his shirt sleeve while he was working in Europe. I think I have personally been stung only by species of Ophioninae, but, according to Townes, species of Netelia have a more potent sting than species of Ophioninae.

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