Recently identified Xenomorph wasp has Alien-like lifecycle — Scien…
A College of Adelaide PhD pupil has uncovered a new species of wasp, named Xenomorph because of its gruesome parasitic lifecycle that echoes the predatory conduct of the Alien motion picture franchise monster.
The new species, Dolichogenidea xenomorph, injects its eggs into live caterpillars and the little one wasp larvae slowly but surely consume the caterpillar from the inside out, bursting out the moment they have eaten their fill. The wasp larvae then improve into adult wasps and go on the hunt for extra caterpillars in which to lay their eggs.
The wasp is one of three newly documented wasps that are parasitoids — parasites which need to get rid of their host to full their lifecycle.
“Dolichogenidea xenomorph functions as a parasite in caterpillars in a similar way that the fictional Alien creature does in its human host,” says direct researcher Erinn Fagan-Jeffries, PhD scholar in the University’s College of Organic Sciences.
“The wasp is also black and shiny like the alien, and has a couple of odd characteristics for the genus — so xenomorph, this means ‘strange form’, fits really perfectly.”
Parasitoid wasps are reported to have motivated the creation of the Xenomorph alien in the movie franchise. In their all-natural surroundings, these wasps engage in essential roles in regulating the populations of their insect hosts, and have been employed in agricultural crops to control caterpillar pests.
“At considerably less than 5mm in length, Dolichogenidea xenomorph could possibly seem to be to deficiency the punch of its fearsome namesake. But measurement is relative to a host caterpillar, it’s an magnificent predator,” Ms Fagan-Jeffries states.
Dolichogenidea xenomorph has been gathered from Queanbeyan, New South Wales and in southern Western Australia, but likely has a broader distribution throughout Australia. It has an incredibly very long ovipositor, a needle-like construction the DC feminine escorts wasps use to inject their eggs into their host. The host of this species is a moth caterpillar that feeds on Eucalyptus leaves.
Ms Fagan-Jeffries’ study is supervised by Professor Andrew Austin, of the University’s Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, in collaboration with Professor Steven Cooper from the Centre and from the South Australian Museum.
These three new species are among the hundreds more wasps in Australia nevertheless awaiting description and names.
“We collected over 500 wasps from a unique subfamily, from all above Australia, and decided that there have been more than 200 unique species just in that fairly modest selection of specimens,” claims Professor Austin.
“There are at this time only 100 species described in this subfamily for Australia, so we’ve at the very least doubled the number of regarded species. It is really important to document our biodiversity so that we can make knowledgeable conservation decisions about our atmosphere. Some of these wasps may well potentially be helpful organic regulate agents for pests, but we just never know about them however.”
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