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Parasitic wasp species that targets invasive stink bug named after Idris Elba

Nov. 18 (UPI) — Scientists have named a newly discovered parasitic wasp species after the actor Idris Elba.

The species — its scientific name, literally, Idris elba — was found in Guanajuato, Mexico. The wasp parasitizes an invasive stink bug called the bagrada bug, a pest that causes major damage to cruciferous vegetables.

Scientists described the new species this week in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

The Idris genus was first described in 1856. Today, the genus includes more than 300 species. All other known Idris species infest the eggs of spiders.

“This is the first association of an Idris species with a non-spider host, and the association is confirmed with molecular diagnostic tools that enable identification of parasitoid and host from the remains of parasitized eggs,” researchers wrote in the paper.

After matching the DNA of wasps emerging from stink bug eggs with the DNA of an adult wasp, scientists sent the specimens to a taxonomist, who confirmed the species was unnamed.

The newly named species targets the stink bug species Bagrada hilaris, which is known to infest as many 74 plant species in India, southern Europe, southern Asia and the Middle East. The stink bug congregates in large numbers of crops such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

In the last decade, the invasive pest has been documented in the United States and Mexico. Authors of the new study suggest Idris elba could be deployed for pest control purposes.

While the latest findings suggest invasive wasps are capable of infesting stink bug eggs, scientists aren’t certain whether the newly discovered species has adapted to target Bagrada hilaris, or if the wasp sometimes mistakes stink bug eggs for spider eggs.

The new scientific paper doesn’t divulge the reasoning behind the wasp’s name, an homage to the British actor and musician, but a press release from Pensoft Publishers suggests the wasp could proved to b a Heimdall-like “protector” for many crops.

In several Marvel superhero movies, Elba stars as Heimdall, a character named for Heimdallr, a Norse deity responsible for guarding the bridge linking the human realm with the realm of the gods.

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Science News – UPI.com

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