Giant Horntail - Urocerus gigas
Large. Up to six centimetres long. Violet tinged wings sweep back over a long abdomen striped with deep yellow infused with reds. From a heavily armoured thorax, six legs extend. First and second a deep, continuous yellow, the third pair tiger striped with dark blacks. Glistening eyes nestle endearingly in front of yellow patches, small mouth parts extend, used only for feeding on smaller insects and wood. Beautifully golden, a pair of antenna extend for over two centimetres, waving softly in the breeze.
Recently emerged, this male giant horntail will follow pheromones released by the female to find her and mate. Females have a large projection at the tip of their abdomen which is called and ovipositor. This ovipositor is used to push into the bark of a tree and lay the eggs. These wonderful creatures inhabit conifer forests and lay their eggs within the bark of trees such as Douglas fir. The larvae can grow up to 6cm long and have the ability to tunnel through solid wood. Typically, larvae spend between one and three years developing in the tree before emerging, but if the wood has been cut and dried they can delay emergence for up to eight years! Emerging from holes roughly 8mm across, these lovely, and somewhat affectionate creatures will fly from May to October.