Researchers discovered several possibly threatened new species of ensign wasps from Sub-Saharan Africa -- the first known insects to exhibit transverse folding of the fore wing. The scientists made this discovery, in part, using a technique they developed that provides broadly accessible anatomy descriptions.
"Ensign wasps are predators of cockroach eggs, and the transverse folding exhibited by these species may enable them to protect their wings while developing inside the cramped environment of cockroach egg cases," said Andy Deans, associate professor of entomology, Penn State. "It also may be useful while they are active in their cockroach prey's leaf-litter environment."
According to Deans, only a few other insects -- mainly some earwigs, cockroaches and beetles -- are capable of folding their hind wings transversely, along a line between the front and back wing margin, as opposed to longitudinal folding, which occurs along a line from the wing base to the wing tip.
"These other insects fold their wings transversely so that the wings can be shortened and tucked under a modified, shell-like fore wing," he said. "This, however, is the first time anyone has observed an insect that folds its fore wings transversely."
The researchers examined wasps belonging to the family Evaniidae from Sub-Saharan Africa. They named five new species -- one of them, Trissevania slideri is named after their colleague David "Slider" Love, coordinator of farm and greenhouse operations, Penn State. The scientists also created an identification key for the new tribe, Trissevaniini.
" We didn't know these new species existed until now, and at least two of them -- Trissevania heatherae and T. mrimaensis -- are found only in a small patch of forest in Kenya that is threatened by mining activity," Deans said.
According to Deans, to officially give a new species a name one must, among other things, provid
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