Pigeon Horntail  (four photos)
also known as a "Pigeon Tremex" and "Wood Wasp"
Tremex columbo aureus
1.5 inches long (excluding ovipositor)

pigeon horntail wasp

side view of horntail


face of a horntail wasp

horntail wing structure
The neighbor kids brought this thing to me after they had rousted it from the back of their basketball
standard while spraying for wasps.  It flew right at the boy with the wasp spray so he panicked and
sprayed it until it was stiff as a board.  They brought it to me to identify and I had no idea what it was.
Bugguide.net identified it for me as a Pigeon Horntail and I was told they couldn't sting although they can
try to bite if mishandled.  The part on the end of the abdomen (curved upward) that looks like a stinger
is not one but it does give the insect its name of "horntail". The long extended part beyond the "horn" at the
end of their body is an ovipositor for laying eggs in trees.  I read somewhere that once the eggs are laid,
the wasp  dies and leaves the ovipositor in the tree.  So, if you see a wasp sticking out of a tree, it just
might be a horntail.  You can read a fascinating article about these huge insects at Cornell University. 

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