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Scientists catalogue thousands of parasitic wasps in new monograph

March 24 (UPI) — In a newly published 1,089-page monograph, entomologists have detailed all of the known wasp species belonging to the Microgastrinae subfamily, the most significant group of parasitoids targeting the larvae of moths and butterflies.

Many of the moths and butterflies attacked by Microgastrinae wasps are destructive crop pests, making the wasp species of interest to scientists involved in biological pest control research.

There are 2,999 known Microgastrinae wasps. All of them are described in the latest monograph, published this week in the journal ZooKeys. Until now, information on the subfamily was scattered across hundreds of papers.

Microgastrinae is an important and hyperdiverse group, which has long played a central role in our understanding of insect parasitism in the context of many areas of ecological, agricultural and basic science,” researchers wrote in their paper.

In addition to descriptions of nearly 3,000 parasitoid wasp species — complete with info on size, behavior, distribution and more — the monograph features color illustrations. Authors of the monograph also produced estimates of the group’s diversity at global and regional levels. Scientists suggest there are thousands of Microgastrinae species yet to be identified

“For the past six or seven years, we have spent thousands of hours pouring through hundreds of publications, reading original descriptions in old manuscripts, checking type specimens in many collections worldwide, exchanging information with colleagues from all continents,” lead study author Jose Fernandez-Triana, professor at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, said in a news release.

Researchers are hoping their monograph will be utilized by other scientists that are interested in studying Microgastrinae wasps.

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