Researchers have discovered 16 new species of the elusive Loboscelidia, a type of parasitoid wasp, following a recent exploration in Vietnam that also uncovered their unique egg-burying behavior, according to ScienceDaily.
The findings by scientists from Kyushu University in Japan and Vietnam’s National Museum of Nature were published in the European Journal of Taxonomy.
Loboscelidia wasps are 2-5 mm in body length.
The discovery has expanded the global count of the species by 30 percent to 67.
While unnoticed by people, the wasps perform a vital function in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem.
Assistant Professor Toshiharu Mita and Dr. Yu Hisasue of Kyushu University’s Faculty of Agriculture, together with Dr. Pham Hong Thai of the National Museum of Nature in Vietnam, conducted field surveys at six sites across the Southeast Asian country, setting traps and using nets to capture the tiny parasitoid wasps.
On one occasion, they trapped a living female from one of the newly-identified species, Loboscelidia squamosa.
They released her into a plastic container of soil and placed a stick insect egg inside.
The female wasp punctured the egg, laid her own egg inside, and then searched for a location to bury the parasitized egg.
She used her head to dig a hole, placed the host egg inside, and plugged the entrance with soil.
“Loboscelidia was first discovered around 150 years ago, but we still lack important knowledge about their biology,” said Dr. Hisasue.
“This study was the first time we were able to observe their parasitic behavior.”
This parasitic behavior is very developed, and similar to the nest building behavior seen in solitary hunting wasps.
The researchers therefore believe that further research could help shed light on how these behaviors evolved in other wasps.