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

July 3, 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: 9 new wasp species of the genus Paramblynotus described from Africa and Madagascar

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

Related Stories

71 new parasitoid wasp species discovered from Southeast Asia

April 23, 2013

A new study greatly expands knowledge of the wasp genus Oxyscelio. A total of 90 species are recognized from the Indo-Malayan and Palearctic realms of Asia, 71 of which are described here as new species. A total of 438 photographs ...

Chinese wasps are taking on the emerald ash borer

June 5, 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. This insect has ...

Recommended for you

Scientists create first stable semisynthetic organism

January 23, 2017

Life's genetic code has only ever contained four natural bases. These bases pair up to form two "base pairs"—the rungs of the DNA ladder—and they have simply been rearranged to create bacteria and butterflies, penguins ...

New steps in the meiosis chromosome dance

January 23, 2017

Where would we be without meiosis and recombination? For a start, none of us sexually reproducing organisms would be here, because that's how sperm and eggs are made. And when meiosis doesn't work properly, it can lead to ...

Research describes missing step in how cells move their cargo

January 23, 2017

Every time a hormone is released from a cell, every time a neurotransmitter leaps across a synapse to relay a message from one neuron to another, the cell must undergo exocytosis. This is the process responsible for transporting ...

Lab charts the anatomy of three molecular channels

January 23, 2017

Using a state-of-the-art imaging technology in which molecules are deep frozen, scientists in Roderick MacKinnon's lab at Rockefeller University have reconstructed in unprecedented detail the three-dimensional architecture ...

Immune defense without collateral damage

January 23, 2017

Researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland have clarified the role of the enzyme MPO. In fighting infections, this enzyme, which gives pus its greenish color, produces a highly aggressive acid that can kill pathogens ...

Provocative prions may protect yeast cells from stress

January 23, 2017

Prions have a notorious reputation. They cause neurodegenerative disease, namely mad cow/Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. And the way these protein particles propagate—getting other proteins to join the pile—can seem insidious.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.