Entomologist names new wasp species after UC Riverside

May 6, 2013
This photo shows Gonatocerus ucri, named after UCR. Credit: Entomology Research Museum, UC Riverside

An entomologist at the University of California, Riverside discovered a new wasp species in Russia and named it after the university, commonly abbreviated as UCR.

Serguei V. Triapitsyn, principal museum scientist at the Entomology Research Museum on campus, had been sorting from the , when he discovered several tiny female fairyflies, or mymarid wasps, 1.1 to 1.2 millimeters in body length.

He named the species Gonatocerus ucri in a research paper he published April 30 in the international scientific journal Zootaxa.

A collaborator of Triapitsyn used a trap during 1999-2002 to collect minute wasps for the Entomology Research Museum in a remote location in Primorsky Kray, Russia, a region that has a largely unknown and very rich fauna of this group of insects. The trap contained alcohol that wasps dropped into, also serving as a preservative for the insects until they could be sent to UCR for study. It took Triapitsyn several years to complete the study, since identification of these minute wasps, which are hardly visible to a naked eye, requires special preparation.

This photo shows the kind of trap used in the discovery of Gonatocerus ucri. The alcohol-containing bottle is seen at the top of the trap. Credit: Entomology Research Museum, UC Riverside.

Gonatocerus ucri is mostly brown in color and has long and wings. Its host is unknown but other species in the same genus are known to parasitize eggs of leafhoppers, some of which are economically important worldwide.

"I decided to name it after UCR because that's where I work," Triapitsyn said. "The UCR Entomology Research Museum has extensive collections of parasitoid wasps from throughout the world, and I routinely discover new species among the collected material. I will soon also be describing another new species, this one from southern California, and name it after the Entomology Research Museum."

Triapitsyn received his doctoral degree in agricultural entomology from the Moscow Timiriazev Agricultural Academy, Russia. As principal museum scientist at UCR, he is in charge of the Entomology Research Museum and its collection of about three million specimens. He also conducts research in the taxonomy and biology of parasitic Hymenoptera as well as biological control.

He is the author or coauthor of more than 100 scientific publications in refereed journals, including several monographs.

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