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Genus Ophion

Small red wasp? - Ophion oph maybe 1 - Ophion Unknown wasp - Ophion - female wasp - Ophion - female Ichneumon? - Ophion - female short-tailed ichneumon - Ophion - male Wasp - Ophion wasp  - Ophion
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 Ophioninae (Short-tailed Ichneumonid Wasps)
Genus Ophion
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Ophion Fabricius, 1798
Explanation of Names
A name from Greek mythology--Ophion (Ὀφίων), was the first of the Titan gods to rule the world (Encyclopedia of Life).
"In the Nearctic region, 17 species are currently described (Yu et al., 2012; Schwarzfeld & Sperling, 2014), although it has been estimated based on morphology that there are approximately 50 Nearctic species (Gauld, 1985) and recent molecular analyses suggest there are many more (Schwarzfeld & Sperling, 2015)." - Schwarzfeld, Broad, & Sperling (2016)
10-19 mm
From "The Audubon Society Field Guide to N. American Insects & Spiders"(1): "Abdomen long, compressed on the sides. Body pale yellow to reddish brown. Antennae and legs long, pale. Ovipositor of female barely visible at tip of abdomen. Wings [usually!] clear."

Comment by Rachel Behm: "Fore wing with vein r-rs at most slightly broadened basally, never abruptly curved; ramellus usually well-developed." (see diagram)
Comment by Jon Hoskins: "There is at least one species of Ophion in our area with an undeveloped or absent ramellus; however, this is the only ophionine genus in our area where a ramellus will be present. In cases where the ramellus is undeveloped, the strongly angular, roughly equilateral (not distinctly flattened) cell 2M is useful for identification, as is the entirely straight vein r-rs."

Base of T2 with distinct median raised area that is semicircular or subtriangular in shape and bounded by weak impression.

Occipital carina complete

Fore tibial spur with membranous flange along its mesal face on posterior side, this in addition to similarly-shaped antennal brush of closely-spaced setae on anterior side
(Source: Subfamily OPHIONINAE By Ian D. Gauld & David B. Wahl AEI)


Forest canopies and shrubby fields
Adults are seen year-round. BG records show adults in all months of the year in southern states and California.
Most all Ophion larva are parasites of caterpillars.
Life Cycle
Adult Ophion species will hunt for their host caterpillar. Usually one egg is laid per host. Caterpillar usually dies during pupal stage though wasp larva remains to pupate itself.
The species of Ophion are one of the most common ichneumonid wasps in the U.S.
"Ophion is by far the most abundant and diverse ophionine genus in virtually all habitats across the Holarctic region (Gauld, 1980, 1988)"- Schwarzfeld et al 2016
They are often attracted to artificial lights
See Also
Enicospilus can be superficially similar.
Note the difference in wing venation:


Print References
"The Audubon Society Field Guide to N. American Insects & Spiders", page 810, plate 445(1)
"A Field Guide to the Insects of America North of Mexico", page 322 describes Ichneumons, with an illustration of an Ophion sp. on 323 (2)

Schwarzfeld, Marla D. et. al. 2016. Molecular phylogeny of the diverse parasitoid wasp genus Ophion Fabricius (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae: Ophioninae). Systematic Entomology 41:191–206 (online at CNC)

Krombein, K. V., Hurd, P. D., Smith, D. R., & Burks, B. D. (1979). Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico (Vol. 1, pp. 1199-2209). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. (Relevant Text)(3)
Internet References
Texas A&M University - talks about Ichneumons in general with details on the Ophion species
Insects of Cedar Creek - has info on Ichneumons with a photo of an Ophion species
Works Cited
1.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
2.A Field Guide to Insects
Richard E. White, Donald J. Borror, Roger Tory Peterson. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Co.
3.Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico
Karl V. Krombein, Paul D. Hurd, Jr., David R. Smith, and B. D. Burks. 1979. Smithsonian Institution Press.
4.Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
5.BOLD: The Barcode of Life Data Systems