New Species of Fore Wing Folding Wasps Discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa

Posted on May 2, 2014

Ensign wasp species from Trissevaniini tribe discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa


Scientists from Penn State have discovered new species of fore wing folding ensign wasps in Sub-Saharan Africa. The wasps are the first known insects to exhibit transverse folding of the fore wing. The researchers used principles of origami paper folding to physically visualize the transverse folding of the wings. The scientists say the wing folding mechanism is only seen in some cockroach species and these wasps happen to be predators of cockroaches.

Andy Deans, associate professor of entomology, Penn State, says in the announcement, "Ensign wasps are predators of cockroach eggs, and the transverse folding exhibited by these species may enable them to protect their wings while developing inside the cramped environment of cockroach egg cases. It also may be useful while they are active in their cockroach prey's leaf-litter environment."

One of the newly discovered species, Trissevania slideri, was named after the researchers' colleague David "Slider" Love. The researchers also created an identification key for the new tribe, Trissevaniini.

Deans says, "We didn't know these new species existed until now, and at least two of them -- Trissevania heatherae and T. mrimaensis -- are found only in a small patch of forest in Kenya that is threatened by mining activity."

A research paper on the new wasps is published here in PLoS One.

Photo: Istvan Miko/Penn State