Tremex behaviour

Susanne Schulmeister susanne71_2000 at YAHOO.DE
Thu Sep 5 00:20:29 CDT 2002

Hi Ken,

I work on sawflies, including horntails, and I have heard a similar

Last summer I was in Oregon, talking to firefighters, asking them about
horntails that come in right after forest fires. They frequently see
them ovipositing in recently burned trees and one firefighter said that
some of his colleagues reported that horntails tried to oviposit into
the firefighter's legs!!!

At that time I was dismissing it as exaggeration or vivid imagination,
but now, with this independent report, this story seems a bit more
likely to be true
 At least in the firefighter’s case, a possible
explanation is more apparent, as the firefighters are smeared with soot
and probably smell very much like a burned tree, so that the mix-up is
not so far off. But still 

>      Yes, at least one specimen was collected (removed from the
> horse's hide).  This was by a concerned horse-owner (in Canada) who
posted a
> photograph to, and both I and a professional
> entomologist (from Florida) agree that it is Tremex (or something
> close).  To me it looks like Tremex columba, but perhaps there are
> other species which look similar.

Tremex columba is the only nearctic species. (Rather variable
But of course there are other genera.

I’d really like to see his photographs, but couldn’t find them on Could you please email them to me?

>       Anyway, I have not yet been able to find any literature on
> wasps (Siricidae) trying to "oviposit" their eggs into a horse (or
> any other animal, for that matter).  I find this interesting, trying
to figure
> out why  such drastic "host-switching" (animals instead of trees)
would occur.
>  Lacks of appropriate trees?  Pesticides or genetic defect affecting
> brain of the wasp (i.e., "mistakes" a horse for a tree).
>       If this occurrence is scientifically documented (it was posted
> by a concerned horse-owner, not a scientist), I guess there could be
> number of reasons that this might occur-----especially these days as
> continues to disrupt natural ecologies in so many different ways.  Or
> this does occur naturally if a horse rubs up against a tree and thus
> "smells" right to the mother wasp.  I can only speculate, but this is
just so
> odd that it really caught my attention.

It is truly odd, but I tend to prefer the hypothesis of the horntails
simply confusing the horses and firefighters with trees.




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