Friday, May 13, 2016

A new braconid wasp: Keylimepie peckorum

The wasp family Braconidae is very large. To this date we know about 17 000 species but estimates go as high as 50 000. All of the braconids are parasitoids which means they spend a significant portion of their life as parasites of a host organism. Braconid wasps parasitize upon beetle, fly or butterfly larvae but also on adult insects of groups such as aphids and true bugs. Most species kill their hosts, though some cause the hosts to become sterile and less active.

Today's new species was discovered in a museum drawer about 30 years after it had been collected. In fact it might be possible that it is extinct by now because climate change and pressures from ever-expanding development in its home, the Florida Keys might have a devastating impact. Little is known about this species, not even the kind of caterpillar the wasp uses as a host.

In an attempt to make his discovery stand out - and draw attention to the fragile, disappearing endemic forest it inhabits - entomologist Jose Fernandez-Triana decided to give his find a name he hoped would rise above others. Keylimepie peckorum was named in honor of both the Florida Keys’ famed dessert and the renowned collector who first trapped the wasp while hunting for beetles.

For the experts: Keylimepie peckorum Fernandez-Triana, gen. n. and sp. n., are described from southern Florida, U.S. Females have the shortest wings (0.6–0.7 × body length) of any known microgastrine wasp. The genus can also be recognized on features of the head, propodeum and first three metasomal tergites. All specimens were collected in hammock forests of the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park, but their host caterpillar is unknown. Because its morphology is unique and it is the first new microgastrine genus discovered in North America since 1985, the potential for future conservation of the species is discussed.


  1. Hi Dirk,
    Thank you so much for writing about that wasp! Indeed braconid wasps are cool is not it? ;-)
    I like your blogs, and I find this one very interesting, as it chronicles the diversity of life in an amazing way (like a daily dose of biodiversity :-)
    One comment, in case is useful. Would it possible, in your post about the new species, to provide a link to the original publication? That would help anyone interested in reading the whole paper -you already have a nice summary at the end for 'experts', but I am guessing that perhaps someone might be interested in seeing the whole article. A link to the journal should help for that. [And yes, I realize that sometimes, unfortunately, the actual papers are behind a paywall... there is nothing you could do about that, but still directing the reader to the source is helpful].
    Jose, CNC, Ottawa

  2. Oops, I usually have a link in the abstract text but forgot in this case. Consider it done :-)

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