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Insect ID solitary wasp? (Cotswolds, UK) (1 Viewer)

Peregrine Took

Well-known member
United Kingdom
EDIT: Identified - see post #2.

Can anyone identify this little critter please? I'm in the Cotswolds, UK. The insect was just under an inch, or about 2cm long, with long antenna, black body (no other colour), and bright red legs (slightly overexposed). It flew pretty fast on release. The closest I can find in my butterflies and insects book makes me think it might be a solitary wasp of some sort. Thanks.

DSCF4602.JPG DSCF4609.JPG
 
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Peregrine Took

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Looking at my rule, this was closer to 25mm than 20mm (without the antenna) - and I just Googled images of the Ichnuemon Wasp and I'd say it wasn't one of them.
 

pdwinter

Paul Winter
How do you mean? I know it's not award-winning photography, but I thought it would be enough to ID an insect. Is there any more information I should give? Thanks.
There's nothing wrong with your photo it's just that there are so many similar looking and highly variable (in looks and size) species that ID from photos is often impossible. There are about 2500 species in the UK.
 

Peregrine Took

Well-known member
United Kingdom
There's nothing wrong with your photo it's just that there are so many similar looking and highly variable (in looks and size) species that ID from photos is often impossible. There are about 2500 species in the UK.

No wonder it wasn't in my book. So what do we need... DNA? :D Do you at least think it's some kind of wasp?
 

pdwinter

Paul Winter
They're not a group of insects I look at (as I tend to pick groups where you have a greater % chance of ID from photos). I occasionally get a picture of one but never try to ID it. I expect you need to collect specimens in order to ID them but I'm sure someone else here can confirm.
 

creaturesnapper

creaturesnapper
It is definitely an Ichneumon Wasp , but as everyone else has said ,apart from a few species they are very tricky to ID with certainty . It isn’t P.rufipes as I punted earlier , size is wrong and I hadn’t noticed the white patch on the thorax .
 

Peregrine Took

Well-known member
United Kingdom
It is definitely an Ichneumon Wasp , but as everyone else has said ,apart from a few species they are very tricky to ID with certainty . It isn’t P.rufipes as I punted earlier , size is wrong and I hadn’t noticed the white patch on the thorax .

You're right (I didn't doubt you, but thought you were uncertain because of the size). And there's a picture of one that closely resembles 'my' wasp in the latest RSPB magazine. I was just looking at it over (a late) breakfast.

Thanks!
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Rotherbirder

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Very, very few insect species are identifiable with 100% certainty in the field or from photographs. Most need close scrutiny with a hand lens or under a microscope at the very least, while many require the specimen to be killed and dissected! Mainstream insect ID guides are useful down to genus at best so don't put too much stock in what you see in a book. You may laugh when you suggest the need for DNA but it is often required to split difficult bird taxa!

Btw, your insect is an ichneumon of indeterminate species.

RB
 

Peregrine Took

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Btw, your insect is an ichneumon of indeterminate species.

RB

If you look at the PDF of the Natural History Museum publication, it looks very much like the example illustrated of Ichneumon Pimpla rufipes (as has already been identified by creaturesnapper), but it illustrates a female, not a male.
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Rotherbirder

Well-known member
United Kingdom
'Very much like' isn't really close enough when it comes to ichneumons! Also, if you read the post that you refer to, creaturesnapper retracts his identification.

RB
 

Peregrine Took

Well-known member
United Kingdom
'Very much like' isn't really close enough when it comes to ichneumons! Also, if you read the post that you refer to, creaturesnapper retracts his identification.

RB

I don't know if you looked at the PDF, but it's on page 32. I think we can replace 'very much like' with 'identical'*.

The white patch on the thorax that creaturesnappers referred to - presumably in the second photo - is a red herring... it's the white background showing through between the rear leg, thorax and abdomen, easy to see that at a glance, but it's not a white patch on the insect. So his initial identification appears to be spot on.

The example in the Natural History Museum publication seems to confirm this (right down to the black of the lower hind legs). Looks identical, other than the lack of an ovipositor* - so mine is a male, as creaturesnapper said. The publication also says that they can be a lot bigger than 15mm, which is also consistent, since mine was about 20mm.

Here's the photo from the PDF - please correct me if I'm still missing something:

Screenshot 2022-07-02 at 11.10.20.png


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Rotherbirder

Well-known member
United Kingdom
No, you are perfectly entitled to believe whatever you wish. You have progressed from absolute novice to expert in the space of a few forum posts, something that I haven't managed to achieve in fifty years! It just makes me wonder why you asked for help and advice when you obviously didn't need it.

RB
 
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Peregrine Took

Well-known member
United Kingdom
No, you are perfectly entitled to believe whatever you wish. You have progressed from absolute novice to expert in the space of a few forum posts, something that I haven't managed in fifty years! It just makes me wonder why you asked for help and advice when you obviously didn't need it.

RB

I take exception to that comment.

I did need the advice - and both creaturesnapper and pdwinter kindly provided it. The former included the ID and sex (which prompted me to find out about the ovipositor) and the latter with the link to the NH Museum publication.

I have not stated any 'beliefs' or expressed any 'expertise'... it seems plain (even for an idiot like me), that the insect in mine and the photographs from the Natural History Museum are identical. If simply comparing two photographs - and attempting thereby to reach some sort of conclusion - can be condemned as expertise, or an expression of some kind of belief, then heaven forbid that, in an attempt to learn something, we're allowed to use the evidence of our own eyes.

Notwithstanding that, and given that in post 12 you sowed a seed of doubt by saying it was Ichneumon of, quote: "indeterminate species", I did ask you (or anyone else) to correct me if I was missing something... instead, you come back with this.

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creaturesnapper

creaturesnapper
I think it is best to put this discussion to bed .I was never totally convinced with my first ID it was just a suggestion and unless you are publishing and you are happy with the ID , that should be good enough. I think sometimes forum disscissions break down , because some people forget that this is supposed to be a helpful platform to give people a chance to put a name to a face . Lets play nice or not at all .
 

Brummie

Well-known member
I once spent a summer identifying phlebotomine sandflies (which look like 2mm-long mosquitoes) in Colombia. There are over 400 spp in a single genus. Many of them can be identified under the microscope from the shape of their mouthparts, but a lot of the spp can only be identifed by dissecting out the sex organs.
 

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