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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Folding wasp wings

Pennsylvania State University researcher István Mikó and his colleagues have described a couple of new wasp species.

Here's one of them: Afrevania longipetiolata. Notice anything unusual?

Brightfield images of Afrevania longipetiolata, anterior to the left.A: Dorsolateral view. B: Dorsal view.

It has teeny tiny wings. Or at least that's how they first appear. In reality, the wings are folded in a way that's completely new for wasps. You can see the complex folding pattern below:

Fore wing of Afrevania longipetiolata sp. nov.A: CLSM micrograph of the fully unfolded fore wing, anterior to the left.
B: Brightfield image of the fully unfolded fore wing, anterior to the left.
C: Brightfield image of the folded fore wing, anterior to the top.

Interestingly, while other wasps don't fold their wings this way, some cockroaches, and these wasps prey on cockroach eggs. Is this the best way for an insect to get into the places where cockroaches lay their eggs? 

Mikó, I., Copeland, R., Balhoff, J., Yoder, M., & Deans, A. (2014). Folding Wings like a Cockroach: A Review of Transverse Wing Folding Ensign Wasps (Hymenoptera: Evaniidae: Afrevania and Trissevania) PLoS ONE, 9 (5) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094056.


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