A reader has come upon a colourful find - and it took an ecologist to tell us what the funky parasite is.

When Auckland man Anthony Jamess came across the bizarre-looking insect, he wondered if it was some strange cross-bred bug.

After asking the Herald for help, we sent his picture to Massey University evolutionary ecologist Professor Steve Trewick, author of the book NZ Wild Life: Introducing the Weird and Wonderful Character of Natural New Zealand.

Trewick promptly identified the blue and red creature as an Icheumon wasp.

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Females in the species are noted for having long ovipositors used to insert through the substrate into eggs, or into larvae of prey.

"Eggs are put there to develop in the body of the host insect."

There were many species of Icheumon - the largest family of all the parasitic wasps. which were often brightly coloured and "fairly spooky", he said.

According to Landcare Research, there are an estimated 100,000 Icheumon species in the world, including an estimated 500 in New Zealand.