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Insects and other arthropods

Horntails

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Description

Horntails are related to wasps. The adults have thick, cylindrical black or metallic blue bodies from 2.5 to 4 cm long. The males are generally smaller, but more colourful than females. They sometimes have yellow or red markings. They have four translucent wings, and are powerful, skilful fliers. Their name comes from the horn-shaped appendage at the end of the abdomen, on both sexes. The females also have a long, slender egg-laying organ called an ovipositor, at the tip of the abdomen. The soft, whitish larvae can be up to 4.5 cm in length

Life cycle

After mating, the females look for dying or recently felled trees. Using their ovipositors, they lay eggs one at a time about 2 cm below the surface. One female lays 300 to 400 eggs, which will hatch three to four weeks later. The larvae feed on wood, boring tunnels for two or sometimes more years before pupating.

Pupation occurs in a tunnel just beneath the bark, inside a cocoon fashioned by the larva. The adults emerge in late summer.

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