Remarkable 32 new wasp species from the distinctive Odontacolus and Cyphacolus genera

Jul 03, 2013
This image showsOdontacolus berryae, one of the newly described species where the distinctive horn of the genus is rather prominent Credit: A. A.Valerio & A. D. Austin

The wasp family Platygastridae is a large group of tiny, exclusively parasitoid wasps distributed worldwide. The genera Odontacolus and Cyphacolus, belonging to this family, are among the most distinctive wasps because of the peculiar hump-like formation on the rear part of their bodies. Despite their intriguing body shape, the generic status of these two groups has remained unclear. A new extensive study published in the open access Zookeys presents a morphological phylogenetic analysis including an astonishing 32 new species.

The peculiar shape of the so called horn structure on the back of these wasps is believed to be linked to the ovipositor system of the species. Only between 1 to maximum 2.5 mm long, these tiny wasps are actually vicious parasitoids, using their ovipositor to inject eggs into spider eggs, thus ensuring the development of their offspring at the expense of other species.

Previously considered to be relatively rare based on material available in collections, recent intensive collecting using Malaise and yellow-pan traps has revealed that some species of Odontacolus are moderately common, leading to the description of 32 species from across Africa, Australia and Asia.

This image shows one of the newly described species Odontacolus aldrovandii. Credit: A. A.Valerio & A. D. Austin

"This has been an intriguing study for several reasons; it has uncovered many new species of this group of ; their biology is particularly fascinating given they parasitise the eggs of , and their horn like structure makes them very easy to identify," comments Professor Andy Austin.

Explore further: Rising temperatures can be hard on dogs

More information: Valerio AA, Austin AD, Masner L, Johnson NF (2013) Systematics of Old World Odontacolus Kieffer s.l. (Hymenoptera, Platygastridae s.l.): parasitoids of spider eggs. ZooKeys 314: 1. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.314.3475

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chinese wasps are taking on the emerald ash borer

Jun 05, 2013

The emerald ash borer (EAB), a relatively new invasive insect pest, has killed tens of millions of ash trees throughout the eastern United States since it was first detected in 2002 in Michigan and Canada. ...

Recommended for you

Rising temperatures can be hard on dogs

Jul 25, 2014

The "dog days of summer" are here, but don't let the phrase fool you. This hot time of year can be dangerous for your pup, says a Kansas State University veterinarian.

Monkeys fear big cats less, eat more, with humans around

Jul 25, 2014

Some Monkeys in South Africa have been found to regard field scientists as human shields against predators and why not if the alternative is death by leopard? The researchers found the monkeys felt far safer ...

User comments : 0