Found a new species of wasps. This superparasite chemically programs trees to protect themselves

Scott Egan, assistant professor of biological sciences at Rice, studies cynipids - bile wasps, tiny insects,

which biochemically process live oaks. When cypinids lay their eggs on oak leaves or stems, they chemically “program” the tree, causing it to produce bile, which first covers the egg and then feeds the wasp larvae that hatch from it.

Cypinides found in Rice, Allorhogasgallifolia, are one of four new species of wasps from the genus Allorhogas that Egan and his collaborators Ernesto Samaca-Saenz and Alejandro Zaldivar-Riveron of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City described in the study.

They also use bile as a resource, andwe are still not sure exactly how they do this, but one thing is clear - they attack herbivorous caterpillars that feed on gallbladder tissue, and the wasp larva eats these caterpillars after they hatch.

evolutionary biologist Scott Egan

In general, over 50 species of Allorhogas have been discoveredin Central America and Mexico, but only two species have previously been recorded in the United States. One on the campus of the University of Maryland in 1912 and the other a few years later in Arizona.

The A. gallifolia found in Rice was collected as part of an attempt to describe the community of natural enemies of another cipinido species, Belonocnema Treatae, scientists note.

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