Gruesome parasitic wasp discovered in Costa Rica

A new wasp species discovered in Costa Rica has been found to cut its host open from the insides.

The Dendrocerus scutellaris is as small as a sesame seed, but don’t let its size fool you – the crafty creepy crawly has saw-like spikes that scientists expect that they are used to cut open their victim for them to crawl inside and lay their eggs. The wasp is like no other discovered before due to the presence of a mysterious comb of spikes on the wasps backs, which researchers think it uses like a saw to escape the flesh of its victim. Once the larvae have finished growing and devouring the insect hosts insides, researchers believe that the offspring use the formidable spikes to cut themselves out again.

But nobody knows for certain how its parasitic life cycle plays out, because the wasp has never been stopped in the wild (probably due to its tiny size!). Preserved specimens from London’s Natural History Museum of the wasp were obtained in 1985 which made studies possible. The findings have been published in the Biodiversity Data Journal by researchers from the Frost Entomological Museum at Penn State and the London Museum of Natural History. The team commented in a press release, “While their lives may sound gruesome, parasitoid wasps are harmless to humans and can even be helpful. Depending on the host they parasitize, parasitids can benefit agriculture by controlling pest insects like aphids that damage crops.”

Image Credit: Credit: Carolyn Trietsch

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