New wasp species with a massive stinger found in the Amazon

By Brooks Hays  |  July 6, 2018 at 11:29 AM
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July 6 (UPI) -- A group of Finnish researchers have discovered several new Amazonian species, including a parasitoid wasp with a massive stinger. The species' stinger is not only long, but also wide.

Clistopyga crassicaudata belongs to a genus of wasps that prey on spiders. The wasps use their stingers to both inject venom and lay eggs. Before depositing its eggs in the abdomens of web-building spiders, the parasitoid wasps paralyze their victims with a quick injection of venom.

When the wasp eggs hatch, the larva eat the paralyzed spider -- and the spider's eggs, if they're available.

"We do not know for sure which spider this wasp species prefers," researchers wrote in a news release.

Scientists described Clistopyga crassicaudata and six other new species this week in the journal Zootaxa.

Researchers have previously witnessed Clistopyga enclosing their paralyzed victims in their own webs, suggesting their stinger serves a multitude of functions.

"The insect we were studying at the time could use its stinger as an intricate felting needle," said Ilari E. Sääksjärvi, professor at the University of Turku. "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."

Scientists documented the new wasp species in a diverse array of environs found between the Andes and the Amazonian lowland rainforest.

The new species were discovered with the help of scientists from Colombia, Spain and Venezuela.

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