What is this insect and did it kill my tree?
November 29, 2010 2:54 PM   Subscribe

What is this creepy insect that I found in a neat, quarter-inch hole in a dead pine tree in my yard?

The tree had dozens of similar 1/4" holes, all of which looked like they could have been made with a drill bit, they were so circular. This was the only one that had a bug in it, though. The tree is now deceased, and we discovered the bug (also dead) while cutting the tree down.

Secondary question: Should I be worried about this bug infesting (and maybe killing) other pine trees in my yard?
posted by dylan20 to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Looks like a grasshopper or locust to me.
posted by dobbs at 2:59 PM on November 29, 2010

posted by sunshinesky at 3:01 PM on November 29, 2010

Looks like a grasshopper or locust to me.

The mouth parts are wrong. That's a siphoning proboscis, which grasshoppers do not have.

How big is the bug?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:02 PM on November 29, 2010

This could be one of the many types of bark beetles, which are a definite epidemic in Arizona and New Mexico.
posted by tommasz at 3:02 PM on November 29, 2010

Steel blue cricket hunter? It's a type of digger wasp.
posted by Gator at 3:02 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Looks like a dragonfly to me.
Got a local university? You could go consult an entomologist! They know all about that kind of thing and you shouldn't have any problem finding one that likes to chat. Especially if you're willing to talk to grad students.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:05 PM on November 29, 2010

Oh, and if you're not familiar with the wonderful What's That Bug? site, well, check it out! It's awesome.
posted by Gator at 3:08 PM on November 29, 2010

I agree that it is some sort of wasp. It is definitely a hymenopteran and not a beetle (it does not have elytra). Can you post different views?
posted by bolognius maximus at 3:22 PM on November 29, 2010

To answer your other question, not likely the type to infest.
posted by bolognius maximus at 3:22 PM on November 29, 2010

Definitely not a dragonfly or cicada, the body is all wrong.

going with the 'wasp' theme, as the 3rd google result for "wasp 1/4 inch hole tree" i get this page, which has a picture of an "Adult Female Wood Wasp" that looks similar.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:31 PM on November 29, 2010

the description on that page says "Of greatest concern are the large, nonstinging wasps that normally are attracted to and complete their life cycles in newly dead or dying conifer trees. Timber salvaged from these trees can be processed into infested lumber. This can lead to adult wasps emerging in recently completed buildings or structures."

So it looks like they aren't the cause of your tree dying.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:32 PM on November 29, 2010

I'm pretty sure it's a horntail wasp.
Fun trivia - they're called stump fuckers in northwest forestry circles...
posted by shrabster at 5:24 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Uh oh. That looks like an emerald ash borer. If it is, that is worrisome. Save the insect carcass and contact a nearby university or forestry agency.

I am not an expert at all, but we have a problem with EABs where I live, and they get pretty big, and, despite the name, run the gamut from shimmery blue green to shimmery red brown. A tree that's been infested looks like it's been attacked with a brace and bit.

I hope it's not an EAB. Fingers crossed that I'm wrong.
posted by Leta at 5:34 PM on November 29, 2010

Sapsuckers drill holes in trees.
posted by llc at 6:31 PM on November 29, 2010

It is definitely not an emerald ash borer. Again, it does not have elytra, so it is not a coleoptera.
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:50 PM on November 29, 2010

Here are two additional views of the insect: one, two. I agree with bolognius that it is not a beetle, as it doesn't have a hard shell over the wings (may be hard to see in the photos, but those wings are exposed).

I've seen some older similar critters -- they were dropping out of the tree late this summer, probably around August or September. They were about 1.5 inches long and had a distinct bluish color along their bodies.

I live in the California Bay Area btw, if that is relevant.
posted by dylan20 at 1:38 PM on November 30, 2010

The local county ag department told me it is a wood wasp.

According to that page, "Even though wood wasps can be a noisy, and sometimes scary, nuisance, they aren’t a threat to anyone or anything."
posted by dylan20 at 9:26 AM on December 2, 2010

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