Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Gnamptopelta obsidianator

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Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon ("Parasitica" - Parasitoid Wasps)
Superfamily Ichneumonoidea (Braconid and Ichneumonid Wasps)
Family Ichneumonidae (Ichneumonid Wasps)
Subfamily Ichneumoninae
Tribe Heresiarchini
No Taxon (Callajoppa Genus Group)
Genus Gnamptopelta
Species obsidianator (Gnamptopelta obsidianator)
Other Common Names
Bent-shielded besieger wasp
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Gnamptopelta obsidianator (Brulle, 1846)
Explanation of Names
Species name likely from Latin obsidere, meaning to watch over, to besiege, to be on the lookout for. (Latin Dictionary). Suffix -nator indicates "one who", so this is the "Bent-shielded (Gnamptopelta) besieger".
Circa 30-40 mm
Very large blue-black Ichneumon with orange antennae. Abdomen crescent-shaped, flattend, and strongly bent downward. Frequents flowers, presumably seeking nectar (?). Several other ichneumons have this same general pattern (Eric Eaton--comments under various photos). Eric Eaton was kind enough to ask the opinion of Bob Carlson of the USDA-SEL, who provided the identification--see photos in guide.

These large ichneumons resemble spider wasps (Pompilidae) with their beatufiful blue-black coloration and prominent orange marks. They are likely mimics of such wasps as Entypus and Pepsis menechma:

All have orange antennae. Presumably the spider wasp has a wicked sting, but not the ichneumon.
Includes southeatern United States
Fields with flowers, also forests
Late spring-summer, into early fall in North Carolina. Brimley, p. 403, lists Trogus obsidinator for May, June, Trogus austrinus for May. (1) Guide photos for North Carolina are later in the season.
Adults take nectar, apparently.
Life Cycle
Parasitiod on Sphingid Lepidoptera larvae, especially those found on grapes, Vitis.
Note that identification of species in this family is exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, from photographs, except in a few cases. Note the comments under each photo listed under this species here.
See Also
Spider wasps: Pepsis menechma, Entypus.
Print References
Brimley, p. 403, lists Trogus obsidinator, T. austrinus for North Carolina. These are now apparently considered subspecies. (1)
Sime, K. R., and D. B. Wahl. 1998. Taxonomy, mature larva and observations on the biology of Gnamptopelta obsidianator (Brullé) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae, Ichneumoninae). J. Hym. Res. 7(2): 157-164. (This reference has not been seen by me, but was listed in an Internet reference.)
Internet References
North Carolina State University Entomology Collection lists the species with two subspecies from that state: G. obsidiantor obsidiantor (17 pinned), and austrina (3 pinned).
On a list of Ichneumons from Gainesville, Florida. This gives information on hosts.
Los Angeles Natural History Museum Collection--not clear if it is found in California, or is just in the collection
Works Cited
1.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.