Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Dragonfly look-alike


QUESTION: My boyfriend found this bug in his room and we have no idea what it is. I thought it was a form of a dragonfly but I can't find anything like it anywhere. Please tell me what it is as soon as possible!!!

ANSWER: Stephanie:

There is no image, and the file is one that is on your computer, not a "shared" file somewhere on the internet.

Further, you do not tell me where on the planet this is.  Without this information I cannot be of help.  Please feel free to re-submit, with a proper image attachment or link to a photo-sharing site; and include geographic location, as specific as possible.  Thank you.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Sorry, I assumed the link followed to the picture. This should work. He lives in Merrillville, Indiana. It seems to look like the body of a butterfly with wings of a dragonfly?It's pretty large in size.  https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xap1/v/t1.0-9/11219384_1438338343139190_5362435219463417723_n.jpg?oh=62d9ad3e9145be1e55b27ad43561055b&oe=56033DBD

Hi, Stephanie:

Ah, much better!

The organism in the image is a type of ichneumon wasp in the family Ichneumonidae, subfamily Ophioninae.  Here's more about them:


Basically, the adult wasps are nocturnal, and often attracted to lights at night.  The female wasp stings a caterpillar into brief paralysis and lays an egg on it.  The wasp larva that hatches feeds as an internal parasite of the caterpillar, but the caterpillar continues to grow.  Eventually the caterpillar spins a cocoon and pupates, and the wasp larva does the same thing, killing its host.  So, the wasp eventually emerges from the caterpillar host's cocoon.

Ophionines are among the few ichneumons that can actually sting, so I don't recommend grabbing them.  Simply usher them into a container, take them back outside, and release them.  Then they can continue killing pest caterpillars.


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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.

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