Sunday 20 January 2013

A new species of Chalcid Wasp from the Western Ghats of Kerala State, India.

Chalcid Wasps are among the most widespread and numerous of all Insects, with over 22 000 described species to date, and estimates of up to half a million species in total. Chalcids are found in almost every habitat on every continent except Antarctica, though they are often overlooked due to their small size. Most Chalcids are parasitoids, laying their eggs in other invertebrates, with the larvae devouring their hosts from the inside as they grow, though a few species mature their young in galls on plants or inside seeds. The larvae of Chalcid Wasps are known to parasitize Butterflies, Moths, Beetles, True Flies, True Bugs, Spiders and even Nematodes.

In a paper published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa on 26 May 2012, P.M. Sureshan of the Western Ghat Regional Centre of the Zoological Survey of India describes a new species of  Chalcid Wasp from the southern Western Ghats of Kerala State, India.

The new species is placed in the genus Cyrtoptyx, and given the specific name wayanadensis, after the Wayanad District where it was found. Cyrtoptyx wayanadensis is described from four female and one male specimens, found at an altitude of 834 m in the foot hills of Banasura peak. It is a 3-4 mm metalic blue Wasp with yellowish limbs and long, slender antennae. The host species for its larvae is unknown, but other members of the genus Cyrtoptyx are known to target Flies, Beetles, Butterflies and other Wasps.

Cyrtoptyx wayanadensis male (top) and female (bottom). Sureshan (2012).

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