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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 03, 2021

Banded Horntail: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Banded Horntail facts are all about an intimidating insect of the Siricidae family.

Banded horntails are wasps that are found worldwide but are endemic to California, Washington, and Georgia in the USA. They are also called wood wasps, horntail wasps, and greater horntails. These insects appear to be quite menacing because of their black-colored body with a dark brown exoskeleton. They have six yellow-colored jointed appendages and two yellow antennae. The female wasp is larger than the males and has a long ovipositor at the tip of its abdomen. This ovipositor is sharp and thus, looks similar to that of a stinger. However, unlike other bees and wasps, they do not sting humans at all.

These wood wasps make a loud buzzing sound while flying and infest old woody coniferous trees. The females, after mating, bore through the wood of pine trees and create large holes. They deposit their eggs into these holes before dying. The larvae after hatching feed on the wood of the tree while slowly making their way out of the wood. Oftentimes, these wasps are seen coming out of newly built furniture in homes, and thus, wood wasps are considered pests.

If you liked reading this article, then do check out horntail wasp facts and thread-waisted wasp facts

Banded Horntail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a banded horntail?

The banded horntail is a wasp that belongs to the phylum Arthropoda.

What class of animal does a banded horntail belong to?

Horntail wasp belongs to the Siricidae family of class Insecta.

How many banded horntails are there in the world?

Although there is no record of the exact number of species, there are more than 120 different types of wasp in the world.

Where does a banded horntail live?

Wood wasps are found all over America, Canada, and Mexico. They are mostly spotted in large numbers in California, Washington, and Oregon.

What is a banded horntail's habitat?

The wood wasp prefers woodlands with old woody trees (pine being their choice of tree) and coniferous forests. They tend to bore softwood and also resides in gardens and parks. These wasps are often seen to come out of newly built furniture at home and infest them.

Who do banded horntails live with?

The horntail wasp is solitary in nature and does not reside in groups. However, the adult male wasps are seen to aggregate in clusters during their breeding season and wait for the female wasp to arrive for mating.

How long does a banded horntail live?

The exact lifespan of these wasps is not yet known. However, the larvae can live on an average of three to five years inside trees. The adult females, after laying eggs, can live for only three to four weeks.

How do they reproduce?

The banded horntail (Urocerus gigas) reproduce by laying eggs. They lay about five to seven eggs. The males aggregate in clusters and wait for the female for mating. Once the mating is completed, the females start boring deep holes inside the pine wood. Then they inject these eggs with the help of their ovipositor into these holes along with some fungus. This fungus enables the hardwood inside the hole to become soft so that the larvae can feed on this softwood upon hatching. The larvae slowly feed on this wood from inside the hole and make their way out of the wood after about three to five years.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, Red List has Not Listed this species of wasps. However, we can assume that their population is not at stake at this moment due to their widespread presence. Pest control by humans can impose a threat to these insects in the household areas.

Banded Horntail Fun Facts

What does a banded horntail look like?

Banded horntail has a black body with a brown exoskeleton and yellow appendages.

The wood wasps are similar to other arthropods in their anatomy. They have three parts of their body, the head, thorax, and abdomen. The abdominal tip of female wasps possesses a long stinger like an ovipositor or an egg-laying apparatus. They have a chitinous exoskeleton that is dark brownish in color. Two yellow antennae come out from the front part of their head that helps them to sense, detect and balance. The females are bigger than the males.

How cute are they?

Horntails are not considered to be cute (just like a yellow jacket wasp), but rather they appear to be intimidating due to their bright-colored body and a sharp stinger like an ovipositor.

How do they communicate?

This species of wasps communicate through the chemical messenger called pheromones just like all other arthropods. They tend to warn off the other insects of any impending danger or mark their territory by secreting pheromones. The pheromone is also secreted during their breeding season in order to attract their mates.

How big is a banded horntail?

The greater horntail is about 0.5-1.6 in (1.3-4 cm) in length and they are bigger in size than the paper wasps (Polistes dominula).

How fast can a banded horntail fly?

The exact speed with which the wood wasp flies is not known. However, like other bees and wasps, these insects can fly pretty fast with a loud buzzing sound.

How much does a banded horntail weigh?

The weight of the horntails is not known yet.

What are the male and female names of the species?

No specific names are given to the males or females.

What would you call a baby banded horntail?

Baby horntails are called larvae after they hatch out of their eggs.

What do they eat?

The larvae feed on the softwood in which they hatch. The adults are known to infest old wood and furniture.

Are they poisonous?

Unlike their intimidating looks, these wasps do not sting or bite humans. Instead, they bore large holes into the wood of pine trees and deposit their eggs into them. They are considered pests due to infested furniture.

Would they make a good pet?

The horntail wasp is considered a pest because the female adults lay eggs inside the holes of the wood of the old conifer tree. The larvae of these eggs feed on the same wood in which they hatch and slowly make their way out of the wood. Thus, they are often seen to emerge out of the infested wood in the forest as well as in households. Moreover, the sharp stinger like ovipositor and black body with yellow patterns make them look dreadful. So, these wasps are not at all eligible to become pets, just like a common wasp.

Did you know...

The larvae of the banded horntail are preyed upon by the larvae of other insects that hatch within the same tree. Due to this, the females try to drill a large deep hole within the wood of the tree and lay eggs.

Like many other arthropods, these wasps undergo metamorphosis and completes their life cycle in four distinct stages, egg, larva, pupa, and adult wasp. The most prolonged stage is the larval stage which can last as long as five years, while the adults die after laying eggs in four weeks.

Does a giant wood wasp sting?

A giant wood wasp does not sting or bite humans at all, unlike other bees and wasps.

Do Horntail wasps kill trees?

The horntail wasp completes its life cycle within the wood of the trees and their larva feeds on the wood while making their way out throughout their life span. Hence, the quality of the trees deteriorates and the wood of these trees becomes brittle and useless.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our cabbage white butterfly facts and blue morpho facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable parts of a beetle coloring pages.

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