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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

02 October, 2016

Pimpla instigator: an ichneumon fly



My identification of insects is hampered by many things. One is a refusal to take specimens home for examination and another is difficulty in finding suitable reference material with the information needed to make an good attempt at identification. In this case I am hampered even further by the rather poor quality of my photograph which is all I have to work on. After deliberation I am going to say that this is a species called Pimpla instigator  but I am in no doubt that someone with a greater knowledge of these things will be quick to correct me.
I should, then, attempt to justify my identification by giving reasons. Firstly this has all the features of an ichneumon; a long, slender body, long legs and long antennae. So, from the possible ichneumon species Pimpla instigator is one of the more common ones. It is found most of the spring and summer often frequenting umbel flowers. It preys on various moth caterpillars and has no real preferred host species which might restrict its location or habitat. The stand out visual features are the long black body and the yellow/orange legs that are darker from the 'knee' down. 
For me Pimpla instigator ticks all the boxes and although there are several similar species I do not have enough information about them to even start to consider alternatives. If it is not Pimpla instigator then I would be grateful for guidance to enable me to correct my mistake.
Pimpla instigator: an ichneumon fly