Saturday 7 September 2013

A new species of Platygastrid Wasp from South Dakota.

Platygastrid Wasps (Platygastridae) are small (1-2 mm), exclusively parasitic black Wasps that target Gall Midges, Beetles, True Bugs or occasionally Spider. They are widespread around the world, with over 4200 described species, which probably only represents a fraction of their diversity, since they are typically only noticed when they target species considered agricultural pests.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 19 March 2013, Paul Johnson of the Insect Biodiversity Lab at South Dakota State University, Peter Buhl of Ølsted in Denmark and Veronica Calles Torrez, also of the Insect Biodiversity Lab at South Dakota State University, describe a new species of Platygastrid Wasp, discovered during a study of the Gall Midge Chilophaga virgati growing on Dakota Switch Grass.

The new species is placwed in the genus Platygaster and given the specific name  Platygaster chilophagae, a reference to its host. It is a 1-1.25 mm black Wasp, found parasitizing a serious pest of Dakota Switch Grass, both for the damage it causes itself and for a fungal infection that it spreads. However it cannot be determined that the Wasp is a potential biological control of the Gall Midge, since while the Midge are typically specific to their host plants, Platygastrid Wasps will often target a range of species.

Platygaster chilophagae, female, body in dorsal view. Scale bar is 100 μm. Johnson et al. (2013).

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