In August 2010, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside discovered a tiny fairyfly wasp in upstate New York that had never been seen in the United States until then. Nearly exactly a year later, he discovered the wasp in Irvine, Calif., strongly suggesting that the wasp is well established in the country.
This image shows the wasp Gonatocerus ater. Credit: Jason Mottern, UC Riverside Department of Entomology.
Called Gonatocerus ater, the wasp is about 1 millimeter long and arrived in North America from Europe. It lays its eggs inside the eggs of leafhoppers.
Leafhopper females lay their eggs inside plant tissue. Gonatocerus ater females find these eggs and lay their own eggs inside them. When the wasp eggs hatch, the larvae eat the leafhopper eggs.
"This wasp was accidentally introduced in North America," said Serguei Triapitsyn, the principal museum scientist in the Department of Entomology and the director of the Entomology Research Museum, who made the discovery. "It most likely got here in parasitized eggs of the leafhoppers in twigs of Lombardy poplar seedlings coming from Europe, perhaps long ago."
Triapitsyn explained that the wasp had been reported in Italy where the leafhopper Rhytidodus decimaquartus was determined to be its host.
"In California, we do not know if the wasp's host is this leafhopper, but I found it on the same Lombardy poplar trees that had the wasp, so an association is very likely," he said.
Triapitsyn found the wasp on August 7, 2011, when he was doing field work along a trail. He caught the insects in a net that he had swept over Lombardy poplar leaves. He preserved the sample of insects in ethanol and brought it to his lab at UC Riverside for analysis and identification, which can take long. He got a positive identification of the potential leafhopper host only two weeks ago.
"I identified the wasp as Gonatocerus ater by comparing it to wasps from upstate New York and also Europe," he said. "It would not surprise me if this wasp is found wherever Lombardy poplars are located because its likely leafhopper host prefers these trees for feeding."
According to Triapitsyn, the wasp poses no known risk – besides killing leafhopper eggs.
"It actually helps naturally control leafhopper numbers," he said. "In its absence, leafhopper populations could have skyrocketed. This illustrates how plant pests are sometimes accompanied by their natural enemies across very long distances without our knowledge."
In August 2010, Triapitsyn discovered another species of Gonatocerus on a large willow tree in the middle of a lawn on the campus of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY.
"This wasp, which has yet to be described, is native to the United States," he said. "The fact that I found it in a relatively well visited and studied area shows just how little we know about these minute insects."
The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 20,500 students. The campus will open a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.
A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.
Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences