Ichneumon Wasp   (four photos)
Genus Ephialtini

ephialtini ichneumon wasp
I found this small female wasp tapping its way along the stems
of a dying sunflower on Antelope Island. From
what I understand,
they tap with their antennae to feel the vibrations of insects that have
in the plant.  When they locate an insect, they begin drilling
 through the stem so they can lay an egg.   Carol Davis, 10-30-2012

ovipositing wasp
The long dark stinger-like structure at the end of the abdomen is
a sheath that holds the thinner ovipositor, or egg-laying apparatus.
  Wikipedia has some very interesting information on the ovipositor.
  Carol Davis 10-30-2012

egg-laying ephialtini
The wasp has begun inserting the ovipositor into the stem in order to
 lay her eggs in the host insect.
I love the way the ovipositor fits right
against the abdomen in this photo
When the egg hatches inside the
 burrowed host, the wasp larvae will feed off the insect. After pupatiing,
the adult wasp will chew its way out of the stem.
Carol Davis 10-30-2012

wasp on sunflower
Here she is probing deeper into the stem to finish laying the egg,
I suppose. This whole process was amazing to watch because I
knew absolutely nothing about it.  I've noticed that in the fall the
wasps seem to congregate around the largest sunflowers plants, maybe
 because there are so many burrowing insects in the them. Thanks
 to Bugguide for helping identify this beautiful wasp to genus.

Carol Davis 10-30-2012

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