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The first video about a parasitic bee attacking underwater caterpillars



Die from below: first video of a parasitic wasp attacking underwater caterpillars

The new microgastrine wasp has been described as the Microgaster godzilla (female holotype). Credit: Jose Fernandez-Triana

Some parasitic wasps can be considered aquatic. Less than 0.1

% of the species we know today are found to have entered the water, while looking for a potential host, or living as endoparasitoid inside an aquatic host during their larval stage.


In the subfamily Microgastrinae (family Braconidae), previously only two species have been reported to live underwater, based on their parasitism against aquatic moths. However, no one is known to actually dive in the water.

Recently, during their research in Japan, Dr. Jose Fernandez-Triana of Canada’s National Insects Collection and his team found and recorded on camera the first wasp to dive under water for a few seconds, to attack and pull the caterpillar out of the host, so that it can lay eggs inside them before releasing them back into the water.

Interestingly, wasps, described as a new scientific species in the field of open-access science, are peer-reviewed. Journal of Membrane Wing Research, given the incredible name Microgaster godzilla, because its appearance on the water makes scientists think of the iconic Japanese fictional monster Godzilla.

In the video, the female wasp can be seen walking on floating plants as it searches for a host, namely the larvae of the moth Elophila turbata, which produces a mobile box out of fragments. rupture of aquatic plants that live inside it near the surface of the water. When the wasp finds one of those cases, it will first probe it multiple times with its antennae, while moving around. Ultimately, it forces the larva to come out of the shell and parasitize by quickly inserting its egg. In some cases, the wasp has to be completely submerged in water for a few seconds to find and pull the caterpillar out of its case. To do this, this species has developed large, strongly curved tail claws, which are thought to attach to the substrate when it enters water and search for a host.

A female wasp Microgaster godzilla searches for a caterpillar, dives into the water and pulls it out of its box, to parasitize it by quickly inserting its eggs. Credit: Jose Fernandez-Triana

As for the curious choice of names for the new species, Dr. Jose Fernandez-Triana explained:

“The reason why we decided to use the name Godzilla for the wasps is so interesting. First, as a Japanese species, it honors Godzilla, a fictional monster (kaiju) that has turned became an emblem after the 1954 Japanese film of the same name and many subsequent remakes It has become one of the most recognizable symbols of Japanese pop culture around the world. The wasp’s microbiology bears some resemblance to the kaiju character, in the sense that the wasp suddenly emerged from the surface of the water to host the host, similar to how Godzilla suddenly emerged from the water. in the movie Third, Godzilla is sometimes linked, albeit in different ways, to Mothra, an unusual species of kaiju often depicted as a larva (a caterpillar) or an adult moth. See, we have biological, behavioral, and cultural reasons to justify our choice of a name. Of course, that’s and a little fun, since it’s a p an important part of life and science! “

In addition to unusual behaviors and funny names, Dr. Fernandez-Triana wants to emphasize the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration and work. The group that published this article got to know each other at an international meeting devoted to biological control (5th International Conference on Plant Insects and Insects in Kyoto, Japan, 2017).

“I was impressed by a number of presentations by Japanese graduates, including videos on parasitic bee biology. As a taxonomist, I am always impressed with the quality of the research. In this case, we saw an opportunity to incorporate our efforts to study in detail about wasps and when we discovered that it was an New species, we have together described it, including adding the filmed behavior to the original description.Usually, the classification descriptions of parasitic wasps are based on dead specimens, with very little detail – usually none – about its biology Thanks to my biological control colleagues, we were able to add more information about what is known about the new species being described. Hopefully we can continue this collaboration and combined approach for future research. ”


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More information:
Jose Fernandez-Triana et al., Microgaster godzilla (Hymenoptera, Braconidae, Microgastrinae), a novel species from Japan that dives underwater to parasitize caterpillars (Lepidoptera, Crambidae, Acentropinae), Journal of Membrane Wing Research (Year 2020). DOI: 10.3897 / yr.79.56162

Provided by Pensoft Publishers

Quote: Death from below: the first video of a parasitic wasp attacking underwater caterpillars (2020, Nov. 4) retrieved November 4, 2020 from https://phys.org/ news / 2020-11-death-video-parasitic-wasp-caterpillar. html

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