Need help identifying an insect

carwashin_momAugust 12, 2007

Hello, I am new here. I have been trying to find information for almost 2 days straight, and I am at a loss. I hope that you here may be able to assist me and my family find out if this issue below is an actual threat.

It is at least 1½ to 2 inches long, and all black, including the wings. A transparent black.

It looks like it could be a wasp, but if it is, it is the weirdest thing I ever saw flying around my garden area. It was actually by a tree next to my garden, but then flew closer to me than comfort allowed. I ran like a scared ninny lol. (I am allergic to bees/wasps/hornets)

It is super thin. Like a wasp that got painted jet black, stretched out almost to the point of looking like thread from end of thorax on to tip of tail, and flying in a manner that reminds me of a inverted scorpion tail hanging and ever on the ready to sting what it lands on. It looks like it has a pair of legs that dwarf the other legs, and this set is used to anchor itself to whatever it lands on.

It looks like it has a stinger on the end of it's tail, and unlike bees, hornets and wasps, this thing flies silently.

I hope someone can help me identify this, and tell me if it is venomous. I want to make sure of things. My kids are scared of them, and I still don't know where their nest is yet. They look incredibly mean.

Thank you.

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posieh(3)

Do you know what "Dragon Fly's" look like? Sounds like it might be and if so they are harmless, will not sting even through they will even sometimes land on you or very close to you. They are suppose to eat mosquitoes. Not to worry!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 6:40PM
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rubybaby43(z4 MN/n. metro)

How about this.
Kristy :)

Here is a link that might be useful: American Pelecinid

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 6:57PM
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carwashin_mom

Thank you for the link to the Pelecinus polyturator!
We thought it was a wasp variant, as my fiance and I are severely allergic, and my children also thought it was a kind of bee/wasp.

Posieh, I know what a Dragon Fly is, which is why in my description of the insect I said:
"...and flying in a manner that reminds me of a inverted scorpion tail hanging and ever on the ready to sting..."

Does THAT sound like a Dragon Fly?
No.

Rubybaby43 gets ALL the credit for assisting us in discovering that this insect isn't going to hurt anyone.

Namaste.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 9:46PM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

Oh-I remember those-we used to call them 'Ick Newmans' when I was a kid.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 9:48PM
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carwashin_mom

Crud... I re-read the article and saw the word wasp.
It is still a wasp...
...meaning we still run for the hills. lol

There was at least 15 - 20 flying around here yesterday though.

Is anyone familiar with this insect? Does anyone know if the venom is similar in strength to other wasps?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 9:56PM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

I saw plenty of these as a kid. This is all anecdotal-but I don't remember anyone ever being stung-even though they would occasionally land in someones hair, and we collected a lot of them for our insect collections for a school science project.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 10:07PM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

This article says they are "sting free"

Here is a link that might be useful: Not As Scary As She Looks...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 10:11PM
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carwashin_mom

Actually, I would like to see where you saw they are sting free, because it says right above the Wikipedia area:

"SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The metasoma of female pelecinids is extremely flexible; when handled, they occasionally are capable of inflicting a sting, but it is a mild sensation, like a pinprick."

So, therefore, with that pinprick like sting, I need to know about their venom. Even if it is a 1 in 10,000 chance of being stung, I need to know. Not being negative.

Your article says there is no stinger.
Rubybaby43's article says there is.
It seems that there is so little known about this insect.

Either article could be right...
Being allergic, I have to be on the defensive because if I get stung by wasps, I am in deep trouble. So is my fiance.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 11:42AM
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rubybaby43(z4 MN/n. metro)

I'm glad I could help. I wish I had an answer for you on whether or not they sting and if it's dangerous to those who are allergic. You definitely have a right to be fearful and I wouldn't trust what I find on the internet.

I wonder if you could get an answer from someone at the University?

Kristy :)

Here is a link that might be useful: U of M Dept. of Entomology

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 11:56AM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

Thanks for posting the link to the U of MN Entomology Department-Kristy-you beat me to it.

Next time you are faced with a potentially life threatening situation-might I suggest you contact specialists in the area of your concern instead of posting to a general gardening forum-and then ripping on the replys because they aren't accurate enough for your situation.

Given your perilous situation-you might want to pay a neighborhood kid to capture one of these potentially dangerous insects in a mayo jar (because identifying an insect off the internet isn't the most accurate method, and you need 100% accuracy, right?) and bring it in to identified by experts at the U.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 12:28PM
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carwashin_mom

I am not ripping on replies, meeperx.
I turned to this forum becuase I am STILL waiting to be called back by the local DNR, and I don't have the foggiest idea as to whom to call at the university.

'Ripping' on the replies means bashing and trashing, not bringing to light that one article says that the Pelecinus polyturator stings, and the other doesn't.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 12:48PM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

Call 612-624-3636 (entomology dept) or 612-625-5000 (general u of mn info line) tell them you have a potentially dangerous insect you need identified-and ask if there is someone you could talk to. If they say no-ask what resource on campus they could direct you to to get the question quickly resolved.

Here is a link that might be useful: U of Mn directory listing

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 1:05PM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

Might want to track down this guy...

A Cool, Scary Insect
Jeff Hahn, Assistant Extension Entomologist, University of Minnesota

What is wasp-like, shiny black, two inches long, and very slender? The answer is a pelecinid (pel-ah-SIN-id) wasp. You can recognize this insect by its large size and conspicuously long abdomen. This wasp belongs to the family Pelecinidae of which there is just one species present in North American, Pelecinus polyturator. Virtually every pelecinid wasp you see is a female. Males, about half the size of females, are rare and usually not seen.

Adult wasps emerge from mid to late summer. This wasp is a parasite of the white grubs of June beetles. It uses its long abdomen to probe into the soil until it reaches larvae to lay its eggs. However, finding a pelecinind wasp in your yard does not necessarily mean you have grubs in your own yard. It is most likely just incidental as they can fly in from nearby areas.

Despite its impressive abdomen, a pelecinid wasp does not have a stinger. If captured it can use its abdomen to jab at its captor to protect itself although it would rarely be able to break human skin. Pelecinid wasps are unaggressive towards people and for all intents and purposes are harmless to us. If you see one just ignore and let it go on its way.

(Yard & Garden Line News Volume 5 Number 15 September 15, 2003)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 1:26PM
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rubybaby43(z4 MN/n. metro)

For the record...I would take anything you ever read at Wikipedia with a grain of salt. You do not know where the info is coming from or who might be entering it. I think much of the info is factual but a lot has been proven incorrect. I read it for entertainment only.
Kristy :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 1:44PM
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posieh(3)

Sorry about that............JUST TRYING TO HELP !!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 8:49PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

We have had these bugs nesting near our patio in a hanging "chime" for a few years now, that has horizontal metal tubes. They plug up the middle of the tube with grasses and close down the entrance so they can squeeze in- and plug it up completely in the winter. They seem to be a solitary insect- 1 bug per tube entrance- although we do have a few living in this chime. I too have seen them resting on trees- and vertical plants in the garden- and I believe the males are much smaller- shorter, thicker and more bronze/sheen black colored- who knew they were hard to find- maybe I should bottle one up and make a call next time I think I see what I think is a male- they do not appear to live long- I doubt I will see one again this year- although momma can be seen tending the nest early in the cooler morning temps in the hot weather. I believe they live longer than one year- as it sure seems to be the same creature we see every year for the last few years.
They are frightening to witness- but we have never had any trouble with these bugs- they generally keep to themselves and have never shown any aggression- and actually seem to prefer privacy and solitude. Bonus that they like grubs! I was concerned they might be harming trees.
I hope you can put your concerns to rest soon and maybe even appreciate them for their fearsomely odd appearance-

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 9:53PM
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rubybaby43(z4 MN/n. metro)

We have had these bugs nesting near our patio in a hanging "chime" for a few years now, that has horizontal metal tubes. They plug up the middle of the tube with grasses and close down the entrance so they can squeeze in- and plug it up completely in the winter. They seem to be a solitary insect- 1 bug per tube entrance-

Clever little buggers!!
Kristy :)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 10:30AM
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carwashin_mom

The more I read about these little flying tanks, the more I like them. What we really like here is the fact that there is a wasp we don't have to hide from.

I want to apologize for seeming to be &^%*&y.
I posted an inquiry describing the lil black beauty, and my first reply was an assumption that I didn't know what a Dragon Fly looked like. I could have been a bit less acidic in giving props to Rubybaby43.
I realize I barge into your group, and blech. I have booted others from my own boards and boards I moderate for just being a tidge worse than I was.

So again I apologize for being rude.
Namaste.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 11:40AM
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carwashin_mom

I guess the DNR is too busy to call me back.
Thanks a bunch for the numbers.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 1:38PM
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leaveswave(.)

If you're that nervous you might want to stay inside more and/or carry an epi-pen. Seems like you do have somewhat of a handle on the 'tude.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 5:12PM
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gamebird

It certainly looks like a dragonfly.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 1:40AM
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carwashin_mom

When it is landed, yes. Flying however, it reminds me more of the spaceship that Boba Fet was the pilot of in Star Wars. lol

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 4:32AM
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snowflakebeach

I saw this amazing creature (female pelecinid) here two days in a row in my wooded lot peripheral to a shoreline transition zone of a northern Minnesota wetland loaded with cattails, waterlilies, wild rice, frogs, et-cetera. I have lived in Minnesota most of my life and was the first time I recall seeing one. Thanks for the link to the image, it is exactly the wee beasty here. It is the a poor flyer, almost reluctant to fly in fact, with stunted wings relative to it's body in my opinion. It sounds as if it is a good critter for going after grub beetles so don't harm it if you see one. They move reasonable slowly anyway, so it is easy to avoid, or examine close up for the curious ones out there. It is really wild in appearance and when it flies, straight out of a sci-fi space story like A.L.I.E.N. but don't worry, it won;t eat your face or anything.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 6:07AM
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mimi_stpaul(z4Mn)

If you are all so highly allergic to stings, just keep epi-pins nearby. Your doctor will perscribe them, no problem. I am allergic to yellow jackets and even though my first instinct is to run, I simply don't bother them and they don't bother me. We inhabit the same earth and we just have to learn to live with each other. Bugs and all.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 12:47PM
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cucui1982_gmail_com

Hey I'm a Texan turned Minnesotan Texan snow bird and I grew up with what we called mud daubers they look almost exactly like a wasp or hornet except they are completely jet black. Now, I had thought they where only in the south but when my family moved to mn I started to see them around our horses water trough, so I guesses maybe we brought some with and they would die over winter. They are still there ten years later . They are not capable of stinging and you are not in danger if this is wat you have.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 4:18AM
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