One of the truly amazing things about the Internet, is how it can link up people with some incredibly disparate bits information, or find audiences for bits of information that were never intended for it. For all of its apparent desires to rule the universe, Google sure is an incredible tool.
Back in September I wrote about my friend Niore's discovery of a wasp in the hills above Arctic Bay. Now at the time he found it it generated a little bit of media buzz (oh yeah, I intended that) in Nunavut, and even managed to get some southern media exposure. Not knowing what the insect was at the time Niore sent pictures of the wasp down to Iqaluit, to the Nunavut Research Institute, and they advised him it was a Yellow Jacket (Vespula intermedia), and when I asked him for the photo's etc. for The House I accepted that without much thought, and posted about it, and it ended up on Circus of the Spineless.
Enter the World Wide Web. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from an adjunct lecturer from the University of Massachusetts who had stumbled across the post, while doing a search for V. intermedia. He didn't know what kind of wasp it was that Niore had found, but he did know it wasn't a Yellow Jacket. Moreover, he offered (and I quickly accepted) to ask the other people on his entomology mailing list to help identify it. (As an added bonus it generated quite a few hits to the blog)
The next day I received another email from a member of that list, and a talented "bug" artist Eric Eaton, with at least a partial id on the wasp. It was an ichneumon wasp, one of the parasitic wasps that lay eggs on caterpillars. Unfortunately he wasn't able to go much farther with the id, without the wasp in hand. I was hoping to narrow it down a bit, however I quickly found that the inchneumons are one of the largest insect families there are, with some 60,000 species. So I was not able to find out where it would normally be found, and just how strange it would be to be found up here (fairly strange I would imagine)
So there you have it, not a Yellow Jacket but still in need of a parka, and it probably searched and searched in vain for its host caterpillar. Now I guess all I can do is sit back and wait for someone else to stumble across this post, and enlighten me further.
UPDATE November 27th. Okay, more people are weighing in on the identification and it is getting more confusing, now it may be from the family Vespidae, or possibly from sphecidae, but not ichneumonidae. I'm sooo confused. Someone must know for sure(?)