Archive for the ‘Wasp News’ Category

UC Davis Entomologist Lynn Kimsey Discovers New Species of Wasp: Gigantic Wasp With Long, Powerful Jaws

DAVIS–A warrior wasp? A wasp with jaws longer than its front legs?

The new species of wasp that Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, discovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, has scientists abuzz.

The jaw-dropping, shiny black wasp appears to be the “Komodo dragon” of the wasp family.

It’s huge. The male measures about two-and-a-half-inches long, Kimsey said. “Its jaws are so large that they wrap up either side of the head when closed. When the jaws are open they are actually longer than the male’s front legs. I don’t know how it can walk. The females are smaller but still larger than other members of their subfamily, Larrinae.”

Kimsey discovered the warrior wasp on the Mekongga Mountains in southeastern Sulawesi on a recent biodiversity expedition funded by a five-year grant from the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program.

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We all know the scene.

You’re just sitting down to relax in your garden on a warm, sunny day, maybe with a chilled glass of wine and a newspaper … and then they attack.

Buzzing at your head in a yellow and black blur, dive-bombing your ears in a desperate hunt for a sugar fix. Whatever you do, they just won’t go away – and nor does the threat of a painful sting.

Wasps are probably the nation’s most hated insect, provoking widespread fear and loathing, and death by rolled up newspaper. But campaigners are about to try and change all that. They want us to learn to love the wasp.

The insect conservation group, Buglife, will tomorrow launch a major campaign to rebrand wasps as “wonderful”. You shouldn’t kill them, the group says, you should learn to be nice to them. [Read full article]

Herald Scotland

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Digger wasp larvae use bacteria against infections

Beewolf cocoon with Visualized Antibiotics

Digger wasps of the genus Philanthus, so-called beewolves, house beneficial bacteria on their cocoons that guarantee protection against harmful microorganisms. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena teamed up with researchers at the University of Regensburg and the Jena Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research – Hans-Knoell-Institute – and discovered that bacteria of the genus Streptomyces produce a cocktail of nine different antibiotics and thereby fend off invading pathogens. Using imaging techniques based on mass spectrometry, the antibiotics could be displayed in vivo on the cocoon’s exterior surface. Moreover, it was shown that the use of different kinds of antibiotics provides an effective protection against infection with a multitude of different pathogenic microorganisms. Thus, for millions of years beewolves have been taking advantage of a principle that is known as combination prophylaxis in human medicine. (Nature Chemical Biology, Advance Online Publication, February 28, 2010)

Many insects spend a part of their life underground and are exposed to the risk of fungal or bacterial infections. This is also the case for many digger wasp species that construct underground nests. Unlike bees that use pollen and nectar as food to nurture their larvae, digger wasps hunt insects to feed their offspring. Because of the warm and humid conditions as well as the large amounts of organic material in their subterranean nest, both their food supply and their larvae are endangered by pathogens – mold and bacterial infection are a major threat and can cause larval death in many cases. (more…)

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France faces an invasion of Chinese hornets that could hasten the decline of the honeybee population.

The wasps, known by their scientific name Vespa velutina, could also threaten bee-keepers’ livelihoods, researchers say.

They have spread rapidly in south-western France – a region popular with tourists – and could reach other European countries soon.

The 3cm-long insects are recognisable by their orange heads and yellow feet.

Researchers think they probably arrived in France on a boat carrying ceramic goods from China in 2004.

The most recent study recorded 1,100 nests across the country. The hornet is now firmly established near Bordeaux and has advanced as far north as parts of Brittany in north-western France.

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BBC Online

Note: This article does not refer to the so called ‘Japanese Giant Hornet’ often mentioned in the press. That hornet is Vespa mandarinia and is confined to Japan and the Far East. Also many hornet species have orange/yellow on thier heads and feet including the European hornet Vespa crabro.

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Orchids are famous for their deceptions. Most of those with nothing of value to offer their pollinators lure them instead with the scents of more rewarding flowers or potential mates. Now, a report published online on August 6th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveals for the first time that a species of orchid, which lives on the Chinese island of Hainan, fools its hornet pollinator by issuing a chemical that honeybees use to send an alarm. [Read full article]


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Honeybee hordes use two weapons – heat and carbon dioxide – to kill their natural enemies, giant hornets.

Japanese honeybees form “bee balls” – mobbing and smothering the predators.

This has previously been referred to as “heat-balling”, but a study has now shown that carbon dioxide also plays a role in its lethal effectiveness.

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A video of paper wasps (Polistinae) at the nest

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