Tuesday 1 January 2013

A new species of Encyrtid Wasp from the Western Ghats of India.

Entrycid Wasps are a family of highly specialized parasitoid Wasps, primarily targeting members of the Order Hemiptera (True Bugs), but with members of the group adapted to target other parasitoid Wasps (hyperparasitism) and Ticks. Some species exhibit a trait called polyembryony, in which one egg develops into a number of genetically identical individuals, which are (surprisingly) not all physically identical, with some members of the batch growing more rapidly to form a 'soldier cast' that defend the others against rival Wasp larvae, but which never mature and become adults.

In a paper published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa on 26 August 2012, Sudhir Singh of the Forest Entomology Division at the Forest Research Institute in Uttarakhand and Y.B. Srinivasa of the Institute of Wood Science and Technology in Karnataka describe a new species of Entrycid Wasp from the Western Ghats of India.

The new species is named from a single female, collected by fogging (spraying with insecticide, then collecting everything that falls out an Indian Copal Tree at an altitude of 128 m, near Virajpet in Karnataka State, India. The tree was about 40 m high, with its lowest branch 22 m above the ground; it was fruiting at the time of the study.

The species is placed in the wide-ranging genus Neastymachus, which is known from Asia, Africa, Australia and Central America, and given the specific name punctatiscutellum, due to the punctate reticulate sculpture of the scutellum (network of spots on its back). Neastymachus punctatiscutellum is a   1.65 mm yellowish-white wasp.

(Top) Neastymachus punctatiscutellum in dorsal (above) and lateral (bellow) views. (Bottom) Detail of the scutellum, from which the species takes its name. Singh & Srinivasa (2012).

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