A new type of wasp was discovered in the Amazon rainforest in Peru, the most biologically diverse place in the world, scientists reported. These parasitic insects lay only one egg, which hatches into larvae that eat the host from the inside.
The discovery was made in the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve in Peru by scientists from the University of Turku in Finland, who have been studying the biodiversity of this area for 20 years.
The wasp received a name Capitojoppa amazonica. Its first part is a combination of two words, of which “capito” means in Latin a large head, which characterizes an insect. However, “joppa” refers to the name of wasps of the Joppa genus, which look similar to the one just discovered.
As Brandon Claridge from Utah State University said, the subfamily to which the insect was classified “usually includes large and colorful wasps, especially those found in the tropics.”
The larvae develop inside the victim
Capitojoppa amazonica can grow up to 1.7 cm. It lays one egg in the body of its host, piercing it with its ovipositor. Caterpillars, beetles and spiders may fall victim to this wasp. After a few days, larvae hatch from the egg and eat the host from the inside. They develop a hard protective shell inside the prey and emerge as adults.
As Brandon Claridge explained, wasps Capitojoppa amazonica after being stung, they suck hemolymph, i.e. body fluid found in invertebrates, from the wound. He added that “females can stab the host with their ovipositor and feed without laying eggs because this “helps acquire nutrients.”
“The most biologically diverse rainforest”
As noted in a press release from the University of Finland, the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve in Peru is “often described as the most biologically diverse rainforest in the world.” Several new bird species have been discovered there in recent decades.
This area first gained prominence in the scientific community in the late 1980s. American botanist Alwyn Gentry documented the largest known number of tree species in one place there.
Main photo source: Kari Kaunista