The Cuckoo wasp, also known as the Emerald wasp, is a fine example of the animal kingdom's wonders. Commonly having a green layer of glossy skin paired with streaks of magenta, these hornets are widely regarded as the most beautiful. Additionally, these wasps are parasitic invaders known to cause havoc in other insect colonies worldwide, and new species have been discovered in Norway.
Frode Ødegaard, an entomologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), is the new species' discoverer, and he couldn't have done it if it wasn't for modern-day technology. For more than 200 years, insect researchers could barely sort cuckoo wasps into different subspecies, thanks to their remarkably indistinguishable appearances and behavior. Recently, DNA barcoding turned the tables by making it possible to determine species' differences through their genetic material. "But it's not always that easy, either. In this case, we had two cuckoo wasps with microscopic differences in appearance and very small differences in DNA," Ødegaard wrote in his research statement. According to him, the new species is extremely rare. In fact, only a single specimen has been found on the Lista peninsula in Agder county in Norway.
This is not necessarily good news, as species can destroy beehives. The vespine essentially act like cuckoo birds. They lay their larvae in the nests of bees and other wasps after bypassing the hive through the release of specific pheromones. The wasp's eggs then hatch quickly before consuming the rest of the host's eggs around it.
Regardless, Dr. Ødegaard received the honor of naming the new edition to the species. "A naming competition was announced among researchers in Europe who work with cuckoo wasps, and then the proposals that came in were voted on. It turned out my proposal actually got the most votes!" said Dr. Ødegaard in a blog post. "The new wasp is very similar to another species called Chrysis brevitarsis, so the new species was named Chrysis parabrevitarsis, which means 'the one standing next to brevitarsis'."
The good news is that the new species seem not to be posing a threat for now. "The insects have enormous reproductive potential, and the size and quality of the habitats are what determine the viability of the population." Dr. Ødegaard highlights that it is crucial to monitor the wasps' populations to avoid any potential ecological disaster. He published his findings in the journal Insect Systematics and Diversity