Female Pigeon Horntail  (four photos)
aka "Pigeon Tremex" and "Wood Wasp"
Tremex columba
1.5 inches long (excluding ovipositor)

pigeon horntail wasp
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. Carol Davis 9-9-2009

side view of horntail
Bugguide.net identified it for me as a female 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.  Carol Davis 9-9-2009

face of a horntail wasp
Look at those chompers! Carol Davis 9-9-2009

horntail wing structure
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.  Eric Eaton has an  informative article about
these fascinating insects. 

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