Parasitic wasp - Ichneumon stramentor

On Friday night as I was clearing the kitchen getting ready to sit down and watch a film with the family I came across this fantastic ichneumon wasp. It seemed to be drinking water from the kitchen top and wasn't in any hurry to move off, nor was it disturbed at all by the camera and me fussing about around it.

After some detective work on the net, with my books and help from the fantastic experts on iSpot I'm able to confirm it as Ichneumon stramentor.

It's about 1.5cm long if I don't include the antennae, and 2cm including the length of the antennae. It has a long tapered abdomen, the first half of which is yellow and the rear half black, with yellow spot at the tip (both on the top and beneath. Legs have black femora; tibiae are half yellow blending into brown that exceeds to the tarsi. Black thorax (with yellow spot) and black head. This specimen is a female as the males have all black antennae.

It's flight time is from April through to July. Besides our kitchen, it is normally found in meadows, hedgerows and along the woodland edge.

I. stramentor is an endoparasitoid species laying its eggs in the caterpillars of the Large Yellow Underwing and Setaceous Hebrew Character moth caterpillars (possibly others). This is where is get gruesome, with the I. stramentor larvae eating its way through the parasitised caterpillar until the host dies. By which time the I. stramentor larvae is ready to pupate.

In the world of mediaeval myths and legends the ichneumon is the enemy of the dragon. When it sees a dragon, the ichneuman covers itself with mud, and closing its nostrils with its tail, attacks and kills the dragon. Some say it is also the enemy of the crocodile and the asp, and attacks them in the same way. This reflects the parasitoid action of I. stramentor as it lays it eggs in the caterpillar targets.

The Greek word translated as "ichneumon" was the name used for the "pharoh's rat" or mongoose, which attacks snakes; it can also mean "otter".