Newly found wasp species has a nightmare of a stinger

Newly found wasp species has a nightmare of a stinger

Noel Kirkpatrick

Photo: Kari Kaunisto

Most people aren’t particularly keen on wasps, but even those who don’t mind the angry version of bees are probably glad they don’t live in the Amazon with this grand dame of wasps.

Researchers from Finland’s University of Turku discovered the wasp, Clistopyga crassicaudata, in a region between the Andes mountains and the lowland area of the Amazon. Researchers outlined their discovery in Zootaxa.

“I have studied tropical parasitoid wasps for a long time, but I have never seen anything like it. The stinger looks like a fierce weapon,” Turku biodiversity professor Ilari E. Sääksjärvi said in a statement.

The stinger is likely more of a multi-tool. Female wasps use their stingers for injecting venom and laying eggs, paralyzing a host body — often a spider — with the venom and then laying the eggs on the spider. The larvae then have a meal waiting for them when they hatch.

Clistopyga crassicaudata’s stinger is especially wide and long compared to the insect’s overall size.

“The giant stinger of the current species is very likely a highly sophisticated tool as well, but unfortunately we can only guess at its purpose,” Sääksjärvi explained.

The team that discovered this wasp of nightmares has applied for funding to continue working in the Amazon to learn more about Clistopyga wasps, including which spiders they prefer as hosts…

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