20 C
Mossel Bay
23rd Oct 2019
Nature & Nurture

Spider or Crane Fly? Neither!

Some nights ago as I was getting into bed I did a double take because, without my glasses on, I thought there was, first a spider and then a crane fly on the wall next to my bedside light. Once I’d found my glasses and looked properly I saw that it was neither and I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. A little closer inspection and some detective work and I established that it was a wasp from the Genus Enicospilus, or more commonly named Ichneumon wasps, of which there are 700 species worldwide!
It’s distinguished from the crane flies (true flies or Genus diptera) by having two sets of wings, and from other wasps by the fact that it flies at night and is attracted to light, hence my finding it next to my bedside light, and that it does not sting.
What it does though seems pretty gruesome! It uses its long, thin ovipositor to lay its eggs in a living noctuid moth caterpillar where they feed and develop. They then make their little white cocoons which emerge from the, still living, caterpillar’s back. Once they’ve matured and hatched the caterpillar dies.
Strange but true!

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