Monday, May 9, 2016

An new parasitic wasp: Conobregma bradpitt

Today's new species belongs to a large worldwide group of wasps parasitising in moth or butterfly caterpillars. These wasps lay their eggs into a host, which once parasitised starts hardening. Thus, the wasp cocoon can safely develop and later emerge from the 'mummified' larva. Despite their macabre behaviour, many of these wasp species are considered valuable in agriculture because of their potential as biological control.

While thinking of a name for the new wasp, Dr Buntika A. Butcher, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, recalled her long hours of studying in her laboratory right under the poster of her favourite film actor. This is how a parasitic wasp from South Africa was named after Hollywood star Brad Pitt. 

For the experts: The genera Conobregma van Achterberg and Facitorus van Achterberg are recorded from the Afrotropical region and the Indian subcontinent, respectively, for the first time, and two new species are described and illustrated: Conobregma bradpitti Quicke & Butcher, sp. n. from South Africa and Facitorus nasseri Ranjith & Quicke, sp. n. from India. Conobregma bradpitti sp. n. is intermediate between Conobregma which was described originally from the New World, and Asiabregma Belokobylskij, Zaldivar-Riverón & Maetô, which was coined for the S. E. Asian and East Palaearctic (Japanese) species described under the name Conobregma, plus more recently discovered taxa, but the differences between these genera are few and slight. Of the four previously proposed diagnostic characters for separating Asiabregma from Conobregma, the new species shares two with each, and therefore, the two genera are formally synonymised. Facitorus was previously known only from the East Palaearctic region and from S. E. Asia (Japan, Nepal, Taiwan and Vietnam).

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