(ORDO NEWS) — The new species is not the first of the known equestrian species to parasitize aquatic life. However, until now, researchers did not know exactly how these winged insects manage to get to creatures living in the water.
Microgaster godzilla – this is the name given to a new species of parasitic wasps, also called riders. An article about him appeared in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research. And no, it didn’t seem to you: the creature was named after Godzilla, a giant mutant lizard from Japanese films and comics.
Riders parasitize, for the most part laying eggs in other insects – beetles, butterflies, aphids, bugs, as well as in their larvae. The offspring of the riders then gradually kill their master and feed on his flesh. Microgaster godzilla parasitizes water caterpillars – and for this has developed an unusual property.
The new species is not the first equestrian known to science to parasitize aquatic life. So, in the same subfamily Microgastrinae, to which Micro Gaster godzilla belongs, there are two other species that lay eggs in the same hosts. However, until now, researchers did not know exactly how the riders manage to get to the creatures living in the water.
The idea to study this issue in more detail came to mind of one of the authors of the new work, Jose-Fernandez Triangle, when he studied caterpillars of the species Elophila turbata, living in urban ponds in Japan. The entomologist collected several caterpillars and kept them in captivity; but only a few turned into butterflies. Riders of a previously unknown species emerged from several cocoons.
Fernandez-Triana and his colleagues placed parasitic wasps in individual containers and fed them honey for some time. Then the riders were released one by one into the aquarium where the caterpillars of Elophila turbata lived, recording the behavior of the parasites using a video camera.
It turned out that in search of a suitable prey for laying, female parasites first walk on the leaves of aquatic plants. Having found a caterpillar, which usually hides inside a partially submerged home-made “house” of plant parts, the rider frightens it, forcing it to move from the shelter into the water.
At this moment, the parasite dives after the victim, quickly inserts the ovipositor into the victim’s body and lays offspring. Sometimes, if the “house” is completely immersed in water, the wasp dives immediately. Experiments with different wasps and different hosts have shown that some riders may not even drive the caterpillar out of the shelter, but simply pierce its wall with their ovipositor.
Subsequent analysis of the morphology and anatomy of the riders revealed that they did indeed belong to a new species. According to Fernandez-Triana, the Microgaster godzilla got its name in honor of Godzilla for a number of reasons. First, the mutant lizard is one of the most recognizable symbols of Japanese modern culture. Secondly, Godzilla in most plots emerges from the water to wreak havoc.
And, finally, this name is a reference to another Japanese monster – Motra. Mothra hatches from a huge egg in the form of a giant larva, which then turns into a huge winged monster, resembling either a moth or a butterfly.
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