Entomology (Study of Bugs)/What is this?



bee too
bee too  
My Husband found this and wondered what it is,this is the second one he has seen it has purple ish black wings yellow and black stripe abdomen like a yellow jacket,and what he would call a protruding probe out of mid stomach and stinger ...small head and large eyes ..found in West Virginia never seen prior to this year,was in wood pile and appeared to have put probe into wood ..about 3 inches long

Hi, Pauline:

Thanks for including the images with your question.  The insect is a female wasp called a "horntail," family Siricidae.  The "stinger" is actually an egg-laying organ called an ovipositor.

Horntails are wood-borers in their larval stage, so the female inserts her eggs into dead, dying, or severely-weakened trees.  Horntails are rarely pests themselves, but will follow in the wake of fires, diseases, and other agents that kill or weaken trees.

Here's more information about them:




So, these wasps do not sting, have no venom, and pose no threat to the health of people or pets.

Thanks so much for sharing your find!  These wasps are common, but not seen too often.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.