Science News

15 new species of parasitoid wasps discovered that manipulate Amazonian spiders

A team of researchers from the University of Turku has announced, through a study published in the journal Zootaxa, the discovery of new species of Amazonian wasp parasitoid species belonging to the genus Acrotaphus.

They are flying Hymenoptera insects whose biological diversity in tropical areas is not yet well known. These wasps are parasites: they literally manipulate the behaviour of the host body, mostly spiders. Spiders are attacked by the females of these wasps inside their webs and are temporarily paralyzed by a special poison injected into their bodies with a sting.

After this first phase, the parasitic wasp lays a new one on the spider’s body, after which the egg itself hatches and the larva begins to gradually consume the spider’s body, which does not put up any resistance because it is “drugged.” The very substance that these insects inject into spiders is of particular interest to scientists because, thanks to it, the insects themselves literally manipulate spiders’ behavior in a very complex way.

Moreover, these parasite wasps do not modify the spider’s web because it protects the pupa that has attacked the spider’s body from other predators, unlike other insects that capture spiders and wrap the web around their body to capture them.