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A new wasp species with an enormous stinger

 

By FLORO MERCENE

 

PARASITOIDS are insects that lay their eggs in the bodies of other invertebrates, referred to as hosts. Their larvae extract nutrients from the host and eventually kill the host they feed on. There are parasitoid flies and beetles, but wasps are best known for this strategy.

All female wasps have a stinger for injecting venom or laying eggs. The parasitoid wasps usually have a long ovi­positor for laying eggs which is handy for reaching the host animals living inside a tree, for instance. With the ovipositor, the egg is placed either on or inside the host, and as it also works as a stinger, the female wasp can inject venom into host in order to paralyze it.

Researchers from the Uni­versity of Turku, Finland have discovered a new wasp species which has an exceptionally large stinger that surprised even the scientists. The newly described parasitoid species belong to the rare Clistopyga genus that specializes in laying their eggs into spiders or spider egg-sacs.

The wasps seek out spiders living in nests and paralyze them with a quick venom in­jection. Then the female wasp lays its eggs on the spider and the hatching larva eats the paralyzed spider as well as the possible spider eggs or hatch­lings. The stinger is used in the same way as an intricate felt­ing needle to handily close the spider’s web nest trapping the paralyzed inhabitant within.

The species was discovered among the insect specimens collected in the extremely di­verse transitional zone between the Andes and the Amazonian lowland rainforest. The newly described wasp is different to other known species due to its enormous stinger with a very wide tip. If the size is computed as human, more than 50 per­cent of the creature’s height is occupied by the stinger.

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