Braconid Wasps are parasitoid Wasps (i.e. Wasps whose larvae mature inside the living bodies of other insects, which generally die as a result) related to the more familiar Ichneumon Wasps, but much smaller. They have a formidable appearance, but are in fact stingless, making them harmless to non-host species. There are about 150 000 known species found across the globe. They have a fossil record dating back to the Early Cretaceous, though this is somewhat patchy.
In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 17 March 2014, Helmuth Aguirre and Scott Shaw of the University of Wyoming Insect Museum and the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at the University of Wyoming describe three new species of Braconid Wasps from the Andean Forests of Ecuador. All three new species are placed in the genus Meteorus, and are parasitoids of Actiid Moths
The Braconid Wasp Meteorus anuae, female specimen in lateral view. Aguirre & Shaw (2014).
The second new species is named Meteorus juliae, after Julia Stigenberg, an expert on Braconid Wasps in northern Europe. Meteorus juliae is described from specimens raised from larvae found parasitizing Arctiid Moth larvae collected from Sodiro (Dendrophorbium lloense), a herbaceous flowering plant, also near the Yanayacu Biological Station. It is a 4 mm yellow and brown Braconid Wasp.
The Braconid Wasp Meteorus julae, female specimen in lateral view. Aguirre & Shaw (2014).
The final new species is named Meteorus mirandae, after Miranda Bryant Talluto, an entomologist studying Braconid Wasps in the Ecuadorian cloud forests. The species is described from five specimens raised from caterpillars of the Arctiid Moth Saurita mosca collected from the Fern Diplazium costale and the Bamboo Chusquea scandens and an unnameed species of Arum, around the Yanayacu Biological Station. Meteorus mirandae is a 3.7-4.1 mm yellow and brown Braconid Wasp.
Meteorus mirandae, female specimen in lateral view. Aguirre & Shaw (2014).
See also Four new species of Braconid Wasp from China, Three new species of Braconid Wasps from the Late Cretaceous of Magadan Province in the Russian Far East and Three new species of Braconid Wasp from Peru.
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