New wasp species named after Brad Pitt

New wasp species named after Brad Pitt

Scientists have discovered two new wasp species from India and South Africa, and named one of them after Hollywood actor Brad Pitt.

The new wasp species, called Conobregma bradpitti, 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.

The researchers, including Santhosh Shreevihar and Avunjikkattu Parambil Ranjith from the University of Calicut in Kerala, also describe another new species of parasitic wasp.

It is the first from its subtribe spotted in the whole of India, while its closest 'relative' lives in Nepal.

While thinking of a name for the new wasp, Buntika A Butcher, from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, recalled her long hours of studying in laboratory right under the poster of her favourite film actor.

This is how the parasitic wasp from South Africa was named after Pitt, the researchers said.

Pitt's flying namesake is a tiny creature measuring less than 2 mm. Its body is deep brown, nearly black in colour, while its head, antennae and legs are brown-yellow. The wings stand out with their much brighter shades.

Interestingly, the wasp with celebrity name unites two, until now, doubtful genera. Being very similar, they had already been noted to have only four diagnostic features that set them apart.

However, C bradpitti shared two of those with each. Thus, the species prompted the solution of the taxonomic problem and, as a result, the two were synonymised.

The research was published in the journal ZooKeys. 

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