March 19, 2013
Field Collection Of Rare Wasps Identified As New Species
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A new study from Dr. Simon van Noort, from Natural History Department, Iziko South African Museum, and Dr. Matthew L. Buffington from the Systematic Entomology Lab, USDA describes nine new species of extremely rare Mayrellinid wasps. Mayrellinids are under-represented in museum collections with most species being known from only a single specimen.
There are two genera in the Mayrellinae subfamily, Kiefferiella and Paramblynotus. Only Paramblynotus occurs in the Afrotropical region. They are very small species, looking superficially like cynipids, or gall wasps. Scientists know little about their biology, but assume that they are parasitoid of wood-boring beetle larvae. A parasitoid species is one that spends most or all of its life attached to or inside of a host. Unlike a true parasite, the parasitoid kills or sterilizes, and sometimes eats, the host organism. There have been no confirmed hosts of the Paramblynotus wasps to date, however.
For the first time, the study records two species groups of Paramblynotus in Madagascar. The authors named the P. seyrigi group to accommodate a single, but highly distinctive new species they believe is endemic to the island nation. The specimens of both species were unearthed from a 1930s collection of Andre Seyrig, which was held in the Natural History Museum in Paris.
"Discovering the field box full of unusual wasps was reminiscent of excitement around opening presents as a child. In fact most new samples of wasps collected in the region evoke such a response when first sorted under a microscope." explains Dr van Noort. "There is a huge diversity of undiscovered species in Africa and Madagascar and every new sample contains species unknown to science. Seyrig was a prolific collector of wasps. It was a privilege to be able to work on some of his specimens that had not been examined by specialist taxonomists since they were collected in the 1930's."
Findings of this study were recently published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.
The spectacular diversity of African and Madagascan wasps can be viewed at http://www.waspweb.org.