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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Weird wasp with barbed stinger???


I live in Anchorage, AK and today I saw what I thought was a medium sized dragonfly caught in a spiders web, but it turned out to look more like a wasp with a long straight midsection. It was black with yellow on it's back and had a completely straight body, but what was weird was that it looked like it had two stingers--kind of like an over/under shotgun....and the top one was barbed!!! What is it and does it sting??? It's the first and only thing I've seen like this in Alaska.

What you saw was a species of sawfly.  Sawflies are a family of wasps that inject their eggs under the bark of tree branches.  They use the "stinger" to saw into the bark and insert eggs.  The true name for the stinger is called "ovipositor" ...sort of an egg depositor...

Sawflies can't sting, but they can cause damage to trees.  

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Nathan Riggs


I currently live in San Antonio, TX and have expertise in identifying insects, many types of spiders, and other arthropod critters that infest lawns, ornamentals, structures, trees, pets and livestock. Mites are not a strong point of mine. I'm not a licensed doctor, so I cannot provide medical diagnosis of conditions possibly related to insects or other arthropods. If you've got an interesting photo for me to see, attach it to your question, or let me know and I'll give you my email so the picture will get to me. If you have hosted an insect photo on a website, please include the link so I can go look at it and provide a faster ID for you. You may also join my group page on Facebook and post your picture at


22+ years' experience as an entomologist: 5 years as a biologist with Merck Animal Health (I was part of the R&D team that worked to develop FrontLine flea and tick products) and 7 years as an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist in San Antonio, Texas with Texas Cooperative Extension.

Veterinary Parasitology, Southwestern Entomologist, San Antonio Express News, San Antonio Gardener Newsletter, Master Gardener SCION Newsletter, GardenStyleSA e-Newsletter

BS - Entomology from Texas A&M University in 1992.

Board Certified Entomologist, 1996-2000 - Medical and Veterinary Entomology Specialty (Entomological Society of America)

Awards and Honors
2000 Texas A&M University Vice Chancellor's Award in Excellence for leadership on the Texas Fire Ant Program Educational Team.

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