Move over Tarantula hawk wasps, you too jewel wasps, your status on the top 10 list of scary insects is being challenged. On July 6, United Press International (UPI) reported that a group of Finnish researchers have discovered several new Amazonian species, including a parasitoid wasp with a massive stinger. The species' stingers are not only ridiculously long but wide, as well.
Wasp's unusually large stinger creates a buzz and creepy references
News outlets went wild, calling this wasp the stuff of nightmares, terrifying, the scariest thing ever and other names that sound like they belong in horror movie trailers. However, your chances, when it comes to getting stung by one of these wasps are slim, unless you happen to be an unlucky spider in the Amazonian rainforest. Also, even though the image of Calistoga crassicaudata published in the journal Zootaxa makes this wasp look ominous, the wasp measures only 9.8 mm or slightly over .6 inches in length, with a stinger half its body size. Bizarre-looking. It's actually not the size of this wasp's stinger that creeps reporters out, but the sinister side of nature associated with the new Clistopyga Crassicaudata's stinger.
Parasitoid wasps redefine eating fresh, local and live food
As a member of a parasitoid genus of wasps, C. crassicaudata females use their massive stinger to prey on spiders. As it turns out, parasitoid wasps do this thing where they paralyze spiders with a laser-precision shot of venom to the brain, reducing their prey to zombie-like states. It gets worse. These wasps then lay their eggs in the spider so that their eggs can have a fresh meal when they hatch. Slowly, the baby wasps eat their way out of the unresponsive spiders, slowly killing them in the process.
Multi-tasking will never be the same
Known as ovipositors, parasitoid wasps use these multi-tasking stingers to deposit eggs into the body of their victims. According to Live Science, Sääksjärvi explained that parasitoid wasps' stingers are considered longer than other wasps, in general, "but this species differs from the others, the researcher said, "as the ovipositor, is also very wide, kind of thickened apically and strong."
Crowbar, felting needle, poison dart, ovipositor, etc.
Sääksjärvi went on to say that he thought it would be tricky to catch one of these wasps without getting stung but that parasitoid wasp stings don't hurt as much as other wasps and bees. Then everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Sääksjärvi said, "The species with super long stingers typically can't sting humans because their stinger is too flimsy." Also, Sääksjärvi hypothesized that the Clistopyga genus might use their sizable stingers "as a kind of crowbar, to enter some holes in the tree surface, etc. in order to reach the spider hosts." CNN summed up the multi-tool stinger theory saying, "So those giant stingers are poison darts, ovipositors, crochet needles, battering rams and bayonets all in one."
Caught in their own traps
About the luckless spiders C. crassicaudata preys on, in a press release, Prof. Sääksjärvi revealed that "We do not know for sure which spider this wasp species prefers." He did, however, say that the parasitoid wasp "could use its stinger as an intricate felting needle and handily close the spider's web nest trapping the paralyzed inhabitant within."
The other six new Amazon finds, remember them?
Along with C.crassicaudata, the other new species discovered in between the Andes mountains and the Amazon lowland area include:
- C. kalima, C. panchei and C. taironae - named in honor of the indigenous tribes of Colombia
- C. nigriventri - named for its entirely black body
- C. splendida - named for its multi-colored body
- C. isayae - honors the wife of Francisco Díaz, one of the paper's authors
Growing awareness of the hundreds of new Amazon wasps may help conservation efforts
With his research team representing Colombia, Spain, and Venezuela, Sääksjärvi noted that the new wasps discovered consist of a diverse group, as well. "We keep finding new species, almost on a weekly basis," Sääksjärvi said. Like a candy shop for entomologists, Sääksjärvi said he and his colleagues "only have time to describe part of them." Sääksjärvi says that any scientific discovery that grabs the public's attention provides an opportunity to shine a light on the "little known but extremely vulnerable habitats and ecosystems" that abound in the Amazon rainforest. "We hope," Sääksjärvi said, "that these finding can be of use in the conservation of these areas."
Wasps and bees- Know the Difference
While you don't need to worry about wasps with giant stingers in Florida, it's a wise homeowner who knows the difference between wasps and bees. Even wiser is the Florida homeowner that doesn't take chances with DIY bee and wasp products but heads straight to a professional pest control company to defuse a potentially dangerous situation. We need honeybees in order to pollinate plants and grow crops on a global level. When honeybees sting, they die and you're down one more honey bee. Not to mention, many people have allergic reactions to the sting. Wasps, on the other hand, can sting multiple times, as their stingers are straight, designed to prey on insects and arthropods. While most wasps aren't aggressive, yellow jackets will attack with a vengeance when disturbed or threatened. Due to the fact that yellow jackets and other wasps can sting multiple times, increasing the chances of allergic reactions in sensitive people and pets, contact your local trusted pest professional to eliminate your wasp or bee issues. Contact Hulett to schedule a free wasp and bee inspection and to discuss expert treatment options. Just call Hulett!