New Ecuadorian wasp species named after Ellen Degeneres, Shakira

This video from the USA says about itself:

The Evolution of Wasp Wings

20 February 2012

What does the evolution of wasp wings tell us about human genetics? University of Rochester Professor of Biology John Werren explains how research into changes in the shape of wasp wings can lead to a better understanding of human growth and potentially how to better treat diseases such as cancer.

From Wildlife Extra:

Singer Shakira lends name to a new mummy-making wasp

Twenty-four new species of Aleiodes wasps, the type that mummify caterpillars, have been discovered as a result of field work conducted in the Yanayacu cloud forests of the eastern Andean slopes of Ecuador. The findings of the team led Professor Scott Shaw from the University of Wyoming, USA, and Eduardo Shimbori of the Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil, was published in the journal ZooKeys.

Among the 24 new insect species described by Shimbori and Shaw, several were named after famous people including the comedian Ellen DeGeneres, as well as the Ecuadorian artist Eduardo Kingman, American poet Robert Frost, and Colombian singer and musician, Shakira.

This music video is called Shakira – Hips Don’t Lie ft. Wyclef Jean.

The Shakira wasp causes its host caterpillar to bend and twist in an unusual way, which reminded the authors of the singer’s famous belly-dancing. In a previous work, Shaw named a species after the US chat show host, David Letterman.

“These wasps are very small organisms, being only 4mm to 9mm long, but they have an enormous impact on forest ecology,” Shaw said. Aleiodes wasps are parasites of some forest caterpillars. The female wasps search for a particular kind of caterpillar, and inject an egg into it. Parasitism by the wasp does not immediately kill the caterpillar, as it continues to feed and grow for a time. Eventually, feeding by the wasp larva causes the host caterpillar to shrink and mummify, then the immature wasp makes its cocoon inside the mummified remains of its conquered prey.

When it completes its development, the young wasp cuts an exit hole from the caterpillar mummy and flies away to mate, and continue this cycle of parasitic behaviour.

“Killing and mummifying caterpillars may sound bad, but these wasps are actually highly beneficial insects,” Shaw says. “They are helping to control the populations of plant-feeding caterpillars naturally, so they help to sustain the biodiversity of tropical forests.”

Shaw will be telling more about the behaviour of parasitic wasps and other insects in his forthcoming book, Planet of the Bugs, due to be published by the University of Chicago Press in September.

See also here.

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6 thoughts on “New Ecuadorian wasp species named after Ellen Degeneres, Shakira

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