Navigation Links
Mummy-making wasps discovered in Ecuador

Some Ecuadorian tribes were famous for making mummified shrunken heads from the remains of their conquered foes. Field work in the cloud forests of Ecuador by Professor Scott Shaw, University of Wyoming, Laramie, and colleagues, has resulted in the discovery of 24 new species of Aleiodes wasps that mummify caterpillars. The research by Eduardo Shimbori, Universidade Federal de So Carlos, Brazil, and Scott Shaw, was recently published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Among the 24 new insect species described by Shimbori and Shaw, several were named after famous people including the comedians and television hosts Jimmy Fallon, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Ellen DeGeneres, as well as the Ecuadorian artist Eduardo Kingman, American poet Robert Frost, and Colombian singer and musician, Shakira.

The Shakira wasp causes its host caterpillar to bend and twist in an unusual way, which reminded the authors of belly-dancing, for which the South American performer is also famous. In a previous work, Shaw had named a species after David Letterman.

"These wasps are very small organisms, being only 4 to 9 millimeters long, but they have an enormous impact on forest ecology," Shaw said. Aleiodes wasps are parasites of forest caterpillars. The female wasps search for a particular kind of caterpillar, and inject an egg into it. Parasitism by the wasp does not immediately kill the caterpillar, but it continues to feed and grow for a time. Eventually, feeding by the wasp larva causes the host caterpillar to shrink and mummify, then the immature wasp makes its cocoon inside the mummified remains of its conquered prey.

When it completes its development, the young wasp cuts an exit hole from the caterpillar mummy and flies away to mate, and continue this cycle of parasitic behavior. "Killing and mummifying caterpillars may sound bad, but these are actually highly beneficial insects," Shaw says. "These wasps are helping to naturally control the populations of plant-feeding caterpillars, so they help to sustain the biodiversity of tropical forests."

Shaw tells more about the behavior of parasitic wasps and other insects in his forthcoming book, Planet of the Bugs, due to be published by the University of Chicago Press in September.

The field research was conducted by Shaw at the Yanayacu cloud forest research station of Napo Province, in the eastern Andes slopes of Ecuador. Previous research by Shaw had discovered nine species of mummy-making wasps at the site, and others are known from around the world, but the full extent of these insect's biodiversity in Ecuador did not become apparent until recently, when Shimbori and Shaw collaborated to name them all. The research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, called Caterpillars and Parasitoids of the Eastern Andes.


Contact: Dr. Scott R. Shaw
Pensoft Publishers

Related biology news :

1. Researchers find unique fore wing folding among Sub-Saharan African Ensign wasps
2. Almost 200 new species of parasitoid wasps named after local parataxonomists in Costa Rica
3. Wasps use ancient aggression genes to create social groups
4. 7 new species of nearctic wasps described and illustrated
5. Fossils clarify the origins of wasps and their kin: alderfly ancestors, snakefly cousins
6. Survival of the fittest: Predator wasps breed at the expense of spider juveniles
7. Small wasps to control a big pest?
8. New cause of high blood pressure and heart disease discovered
9. Genetic disorder causing strokes and vascular inflammation in children has been discovered
10. New electric fish genus and species discovered in Brazils Rio Negro
11. Novel marker discovered for stem cells derived from human umbilical cord blood
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Mummy-making wasps discovered in Ecuador
(Date:11/2/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International ... million to provide preclinical development services to the National ... contract, SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and ... variety of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate ... --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter ... titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options ... of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology ... --> --> ... has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today announced an ... its DNA library preparation products, including the ThruPLEX ... Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been optimized for ... libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of cell-free circulating ... in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins Scientific is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP and ... to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in their ... votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip to ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... New York , November 24, 2015 ... to a recent market research report released by Transparency ... projected to expand at a CAGR of 17.5% during ... "Non-invasive Prenatal Testing Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, ... estimates the global non-invasive prenatal testing market to reach ...
(Date:11/24/2015)...  Twist Bioscience, a company focused on synthetic ... Bioscience chief executive officer, will present at the ... 2015 at 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time at The Lotte New ... --> --> About Twist ... on Twitter. Sign up to follow our Twitter ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Vancouver, BC (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 ... ... to our customer, OrthoAccel® Technologies, Inc., on being named to Deloitte's 2015 Technology ... Creation Technologies’ Texas facility, OrthoAccel manufactures AcceleDent®, a FDA-cleared, Class II medical device ...
Breaking Biology Technology: