Novel parasitic species with distinctive teeth newly discovered in Asian forests

Novel parasitic species with distinctive teeth newly discovered in Asian forests
Image by European Journal of Taxonomy

Last year, a research expedition in the forests of Guangzhou, China, made an interesting discovery. Researchers caught a parasitic animal entangled in an insect net. It turned out to be a unique variant of the newly discovered spotted wasp, according to a study published December 1 in the European Journal of Taxonomy.

Before being convinced that this was a new species, the researchers had searched for information on similar wasps and found seven other examples in the collection's archives. After examining the insects, they concluded that they had found a new species called Serratichneumon maculatus, or spotted parasitic wasp.

The spotted parasitic wasp has a body about 0.5 inches long and slightly shorter wings, the research team said. Its face is "flat" and its mouth is equipped with two "distinctly separated teeth."

The wasp has a black body with lighter spot patterns, which the researchers described as "drop-shaped" and "large white and red spots." Meanwhile, the wasp's six legs are brownish-red.

The wings are translucent yellow with dark brown veins, creating an interesting sheen.

The researchers explain that male spotted parasitic wasps have "serrated" antennae. These antennae have similarities to the shape of leafy plants.

The researchers have not been able to identify the creature that hosts the spotted parasitic wasp, according to the research report. Based on the anatomical features of the wasp, it is thought that the host may be a type of butterfly or moth larva.

So far, spotted parasitic wasps have been found in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The researchers said the new species was named for the pattern of spots on its body. The new species was placed in a new genus and identified by features such as antenna shape, unique teeth, body shape and other physical characteristics, the study explained. However, DNA analysis for the new species was not included by the researchers.

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