Ontsira mellipes - predator of Asian long-horned beetle

This is a parasitoid, a native species which apparently is common in the north American continent and is considered to be a predator of the Asian long-horned beetle. I wanted to see where inaturalist observers have seen this. But search does not indicate any results? I’ve received postings for taxa changes, so perhaps this is being posted under a different name? I can’t imagine that if it’s found on the continent, that someone hasn’t already seen it.

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Not familiar with the species. The genus is in the iNat taxonomy, but has no observations, though I don’t see O. mellipes. I actually do think it’s possible that there aren’t any observations of it. Some species are really hard to ID or not noted by many IDers, and given the results for the whole genus, this seems at least plausible.

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See: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/ppq-program-overview/plant-protection-today/articles/alb-biocontrol

That’s a good overview of USDA work with the species, but it doesn’t speak to whether it’s IDable from photos or common/rare/easily observed.

Additionally, there aren’t any observations in the genus on Bugguide either. There also aren’t any in GBIF even!: https://www.gbif.org/species/1256103

My guess is that these small Braconids are difficult to ID with photo evidence, uncommonly observed, or some combo of those (again, no personal experience with this taxon).

O. mellipes does appear to have been previously called Doryctes mellipes and Doryctodes mellipes (Marsh 1973), but seems to have been O. mellipes since that paper.

I haven’t read about this species yet, but I’d also look into if any plant species is associated with any part of it’s life cycle too. For where to look, the host insect or plant(s) may be a starting point.

Something I’ve noticed with ichneumonid observations in general is that even with really high quality pictures of ichneumonoids on iNaturalist rarely get identified to species. This is the case even for species with prominent markings that probably could be I.D.ed with the right knowledge. It could be simply that we don’t have a lot of ichneumonoid experts on this site, and hence these animals tend to be less identified and there are far fewer Research Grade identifications than would be expected.

It is also definitely true that braconids are very, very small and hard to identify without a pinned specimen under a microscope or associated host!

This is so coincidental. I just read Bernd Heinrich’s The Snoring Bird in which a good part of the book tells about his Father Gerd’s lifelong pursuit of ichneumons, in which young Bernd was also involved. Virenda Gupta, UFL Dept of Entomology, notes Gerd’s important work on ichneumonids. I credit inaturalist for my growing interest in the work of field biologists.

Among these wasps and related groups, I’ve ID’d ichneumonids most, and some braconids, other minute parasitoid wasps, and sawflies. An educated guess about ich. ID is some lack of experts as you say (but there are some on iNat). But also that the group is extremely diverse, which often results in there being small differences between some species, lacking knowledge on how many species occur in each area sometimes, etc. I have seen some ID’d to species, and made some species IDs. Mostly in northeast US/Canada, for which I also used Bug Guide to see most common species. I found that due to the difficulty, I had to focus on ich. ID and ID all at once. If I were to ID them now I’d have to re-review a lot. But it’s worthwhile, if more people try ID’ing them too.

My understanding of some of the other even more minute parasitoid hymenopterans is that there’s far less info. known about them in terms of publications, ID keys, specimens, photos, etc., in general. They’re harder to observe and collected less too. iNat observations are also an opportunity to help that area of research. I used a microscope to add some photos of minute wasps.

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