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Neon Blue & Orange Wasp - female

Neon Blue & Orange Wasp - Female
Encino, Los Angeles County, California, USA
March 18, 2006
Size: about 1/2 inch
I've been seeing these for years now, but they flit around so much it's hard to get close enough to photograph before they move on.Today was a bit chilly, so I was able to keep up with it as it searched under and around everything on the ground.
From the metallic blue color and its habit of flicking its wings I thought it might be related to the blue mud dauber (Chalybion californicum), but the ovipositor suggests I've entered the Ichneumonoid Zone, where even taxonomists abandon hope of finding their way... :-)

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Neon Blue & Orange Wasp - female Neon Blue & Orange Wasp - female

You have entered...
the "forbidden" zone. Indeed, being good at Ichneumonidae (at least the family can be told for sure thanks to wing venation) is a full-time job. This superb female belongs to one of the big-sized genera of subfamily Cryptinae (= Gelinae, = Phygadeuontinae).
Ironically, some genera of this group are parasitoid of mud dauber Sphecids like Sceliphron or Chalybion. Their well developped ovipositor distinguishes them from some Ichneumoninae, which can have exactly the same color pattern.
By their swift gait and the habit of flicking their wings, these Ichneumon Wasps somehow mimick Spider Wasps, too.

I'm happy just to have a subfamily on this one!

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