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New Parasitic Wasp Discovered in China

Sep 08, 2014 05:25 PM EDT
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New Parasitic Wasp Discovered in China
A new wasp species belonging to the Spasskia genus has been identified in China, expanding on the number of disturbingly parasitic wasps that can be found around the globe.
[Pictured: Samples of Spasskia brevicarinata (left) and Spasskia indica (right). ]
(Photo : Entomological Society of America)

A new wasp species belonging to the Spasskia genus has been identified in China, expanding on the number of disturbingly parasitic wasps that can be found around the globe.

The wasp in question is called Spasskia brevicarinata and is surprisingly small - growing less than a single centimeter long when mature. This remarkably small size may be one of the reasons that it took so long for experts to identify the new species, as it is extremely similar looking to Spasskia indica, a previously known species that was also just discovered to be using China as a stomping grounds.

Both the S. brevicarinata and S. indica are new discoveries for China which is surprising in itself because, as far as entomology subjects for study go, parasitic wasps are certainly the cool kids on the block.

Both these wasps are also considered parasitoid in nature, meaning that they inject their larvae into a living organism - unlike nest-building wasp species like the paper wasp. These parasitic children are then supplied with plenty of nutrients, stealing energy and even flesh from their host until they are mature enough to sprout wings and literally tear their way into the world. (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : Wiki CC0 - Silvia Mecenero)

This may sound particularly horrific, where entomologists have stumbled upon the husks of long-dead caterpillars with dozens upon dozens of wasp larvae visibly writhing just beneath the skin. However, "living organism" does not always mean a conscious animal. Plants for instance, are often the hosts to parasitoid wasps - wasp galls being a perfect example.

Nature World News previous reported how the newly discovered Apocrypta westwoodi grandi makes unripe figs the victim of its children, using a specially designed zinc-tipped "drill bit" to bore into the tough fruit and lay its eggs.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Insect Science, S. brevicarinata and S. indica are not much different (albeit less well-equpped), injecting their larvae into the cones of Chinese pines.

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