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Scientists find two new species of giant parasitic wasps in Uganda

Scientists find two new species of giant parasitic wasps in Uganda

Science
Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Finnish researchers conducting field studies in Africa have discovered two new species of giant parasitic wasps. The discovery, described this week in the journal ZooKeys, suggests the group of insects known as Afrotropical rhyssine wasps is more diverse than previously thought. The largest rhyssine wasp species can grow to lengths of 10 centimeters -- nearly 4 inches. The parasitic species lay their eggs inside the larvae of other wasps and beetles that harvest rotting wood. Until now, everything that scientists knew about the group of insects in the Afrotropical region was based on just 30 specimens. "A good example of how poorly tropical rhyssines are known is the species Epirhyssa overlaeti, which is the largest African rhyssine," lead researcher Tapani Hopkins, a do...
Wasps: If you can’t love them, at least admire them

Wasps: If you can’t love them, at least admire them

Science
Want to know the best way to kill a cockroach?Well, first inject some powerful neurotoxins directly into its brain. This will make the bug compliant; it won't try to fly away and will bend to your will.Second, slice off one of its antennae and drink the goo that comes out. For snack purposes, you understand.And then lead it off to your lair by the stump, like a dog on a leash. You're going to bury this zombie in a hole in the ground.But just before you close up the tomb, lay an egg on the bug. Your progeny can have the joy of eating it alive.Dr Gavin Broad relishes these stories about how wasps will parasitise other critters. He's the principal curator in charge of insect collections at London's...
Scientists: Why we should appreciate wasps

Scientists: Why we should appreciate wasps

Science
Scientists have put together a map of the UK's wasp population, showing the distribution of key species.Data recorded by volunteers gives an insight into where wasps are living in the nation's grasslands, woodlands and towns.The researchers say wasps are a much maligned insect, which deserve more attention.Rather than being "bothersome and pointless", they are in fact beneficial insects, keeping other pests in check.Dr Seirian Sumner of University College London said wasps are nature's pest controllers and a world without wasps would mean that we would have to use a lot more pesticides to control the other insects that we dislike and find annoying."They're the maligned insect of the insect world - they're viewed as the gangsters, " she told the BBC. "Whe...
Why do we hate wasps and love bees?

Why do we hate wasps and love bees?

Science
A new study reveals that wasps are largely disliked by the public, whereas bees are highly appreciated. The researchers involved say that this view is unfair because wasps are just as ecologically useful as bees. The scientists suggest a public relations campaign to restore the wasps' battered image.They'd like to see the same efforts made to conserve them as there currently are with bees.The survey of 750 people from 46 countries has been published in Ecological Entomology.Despised by picnickers, feared for their painful stings - wasps are among the least loved of insects according to the new study. In the survey, participants were asked to rate the insects on a scale...
Battle of the parasites: Love vine sucks the life from gall wasps

Battle of the parasites: Love vine sucks the life from gall wasps

Science
Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a never-before-seen interaction between parasites. Researchers at Rice University discovered a parasitic vine preying on a parasitic wasp. The two parasites, love vine and gall wasps, share the same host, oak trees. But the new research suggests it's not the tree the vine is interested in, but wasp larva hiding inside the pea-sized growths found on the underside of oak leaves. Rice University evolutionary biologist Scott Egan has spent nearly two decades studying gall-forming parasites. But until he and his students noticed love vine twisting around galls in the lab, Egan had never seen the novel interaction before. "I had never seen this," Egan said in a news release. "But the fact that no one, as far as we know, had ever documented this was in...