There are exactly 16 species of uncovered parasites.

Little Ormerus Labotus seems to be always suspicious of parasitoid wasps. The wasp was not a spectacular beauty – the wasp may not be attractive at all, but it is a way of life. Parasitoid wasps lay their eggs on or on other insects and arthropods and eat the exit when the larvae hatch. Each parasitoid wasp species selects one or more hosts. But Ormires Labotus has been observed laying eggs in more than 65 different species of insects – more than one or a few.

Ormeros Labotus is dependent on gallstones, laying eggs on plants and creating resistant and inflamed structures. Gallstones from different wasps come in different sizes and shapes. Some are stronger than others, some have unusual defenses. Divided with fiber, there is secret honey or dried gall. Parasitoid wasps often have special adjustments that allow them to shed certain types of gallbladder.

Ormires Labotus, however, seemed to have no problem getting into the different types of gallbladder: clear-lime-green and polka-dot round gallbladder, sharp yellow gallbladder on a leaf blade, and strong gallbladder on the branch. Sophia Sheikh, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, who studied wasps at the University of Iowa, says:

Anthropologists have good reason to be skeptical. After Sheikh and Iowa University researchers removed DNA samples from parasitoid wasps, Ormires Labotus proved to be at least 16 genetically distinct species, basically identical to the naked eye. Their research was published Wednesday in the journal Insect Systematics and Diversity.

The paper, according to the researchers, is the latest in a series of studies that have identified the most common species of parasites as complex species. And scientists are convinced that this latent difference exists in insects that have not been studied for decades – and that there may be even more species of Ormiros Labotus.

These examples are teaching scientists to “doubt” any species of parasite that is believed to be generalized, says Josephine Rodriguez, a vicarious Virginia college ontologist.

According to Andrew Forbes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Iowa, the paper came from a large-scale evolutionary study of North American gallstones and parasites. “Nobody sees these groups for 50 to 100 years,” said Miles Zhang, an onomatologist at the USDA Systematic Entomology Lab. His name is a measure of human sexuality.

Sheikh and Anna Ward, a graduate student in Iowa, spent many years uprooting oak trees by exploring the social network iNaturalist and inviting people into the backyard. They returned the gallbladder to the laboratory, placed it in separate cups in a refrigerator, and kept the gallbladder hatching wasps, parasites, or both – two wasps in one stone. “Usually 20 wasps per stone,” explains Forbes. “Each gallbladder is infected with 10 to 25 different parasites.”

As the wasps hatch and chew the gallbladder, the researchers sampled the insects’ DNA and examined their genetic differences. Then compare genetic results with ecological findings, which means which wasps were found and which trees were gallstones. They also studied the anatomy of insects, which was not very helpful as wasps appear to be very similar. This is how wasps learned to represent at least 16 species. (There were probably two more, but the researchers did not have enough samples to be sure.)

The researchers found that Ormires Labotus did not have the same species, but that 16 to 18 different species were surprising. “All of these species are here in our small sample,” Sheikh said. It means there is still much to be done.

The paper does not publicly disclose or name any species in the complex, as such taxonomic work requires additional evidence and microscopic measurements of the body parts. And DNA analysis revealed only one bar-coding mitochondrial gene. But Forbes hopes that someone will take the taxonomic mantle and name each of these 16 to 18 long-neglected wasps. “This study adds to the fact that we need more support to train and fund additional taxonomists,” Rodriguez said.

Identifying dozens of identical wasps from the same species is not just a tactical practice. Paracetamol wasps make them excellent pesticides. In Hawaii, parasitoid wasp Eurytoma erythrinae significantly reduced the population of gallbladder, endangering native willowy tree.

According to Zang, endomologists often focus on bees and ants – the most flashing insects in the Hymenoptera – ignoring micro-organisms.

“Because they are so small, they are so cheap,” says Zhang. But they are humble, with beautiful eyes.

Zhang, who works at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, says the museum has at least 100 specimens named Ormires Labotes. Small wasps are usually stored in a drawer. But when they come into the light, their bodies, which seem to be different in every direction, shine.


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