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NTU entomologists discover new species

2013/08/25 22:31:27

Taipei, Aug. 25 (CNA) A team of entomologists from the National Taiwan University (NTU) have discovered a new species -- a tiny wasp that relies on damselflies for procreation.

After its verification with the help of experts from the British Museum, the experts made the discovery and solved the mystery of eggs found inside the eggs of damselflies, which are laid on fallen leaves submerged in water.

Professor Ko Chiun-cheng and doctoral student Shih Yuan-tung of the NTU's Graduate Institute of Entomology first observed the wasp riding on the back of a damselfly known as Psolodesmus mandarinus in New Taipei City. The newly discovered wasp belongs to a genus which contains just four other described species, all from South America.

The wasp, named Hydrophylita emporos, is the first species of its subgenus that has been found in Asia, and the first observed transporting itself on another organism. Adults of the species measure only 1.2 mm in length.

"The specific epithet emporos means 'passenger' in Latin, reflecting the phoretic behavior of adult females," the entomologists explained in a paper published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

They found that female wasps would wait by the water for damselflies to lay their eggs. When a damselfly arrives, a wasp would land on its back, walk down into the water and lay its own eggs inside the eggs of the damselfly.

It takes one to three days for the wasp eggs to hatch and the larvae would feed on the damselfly eggs for survival.

The team will next study the body mechanism that allows the larvae to swim to the surface of the water, said Shih.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and Jay Chen)