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New ‘slasher’ wasp is equipped with his own body saw

The new parasitoid wasp species, <i>Dendrocerus scutellaris</i>, carries a saw of sorts on its back.

(Carolyn Trietsch)

Freddy Krueger, eat your heart out. A new species of parasitic waspcomes equipped with a built-in saw, the killer insect can use to cut his way out of the body of its host.

In a new article published Jan. 30 of the Biodiversity Data Journal, researchers from Penn State and the Natural History Museum in London report of the discovery of Dendrocerus scutellaris, a wasp less than 0.1 inch (3 mm) long, that sports a series of pointed spines along her back.

On the basis of the wasp’s anatomy, researchers suspect it is an endoparasitoid, a type of wasp lays her eggs in a host, usually a caterpillar or adult insect. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the host from the inside to the outside. When the food runs out and the larvae mature into their adult forms, they chew on their way from the host. [Zombie Animals: 5 Real-Life case of the Body-Thieves]

D. scutellaris lacks the pointy jaws that most endoparasitoid wasps use to gnaw their way out of their hosts. That is the reason that the authors of the study propose that the saw-like structure on the wasp’s back is his ticket to escape; when it’s time to free itself, the wasp can rub the structure — a so-called mesoscutellar ridge to the inside of the host to cut his way out.

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The researchers have not seen this behavior in the wild; they discovered D. scutellaris in the collections of London’s Natural History Museum. Some instances of the kind in the storage, the investigated and not identified until they were loaned to the Penn State Frost Museum.

A number of other species in the genus Dendrocerus have already discovered, and there are several parasites parasites that live in the aphids, the researchers wrote. In addition to its saw-like ridge, the new type has dramatic branching antennae, which can help to feel like partners or potential host.

Original article on Live Science.

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