LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) -- Field work in the cloud forests of Ecuador by scientists from Wyoming and Brazil has led to the discovery of wasps that mummify caterpillars.
A weekend story in the Gillette News Record describes the findings recently published in the open access journal ZooKeys by Scott Shaw of the University of Wyoming and Eduardo Shimbori of the Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos in Brazil.
Among the 24 new species is one that causes its host caterpillar to bend and twist in a way that reminded the scientists of belly dancing. They named that wasp the Shakira, after the Colombian star.
Shaw says the wasps are only 4 to 9 millimeters long, but have an enormous impact by helping control the populations of plant-feeding caterpillars, thereby sustaining the biodiversity of tropical forests.