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Parasitic wasp found while digitising collections

A small parasitic wasp had been flying under the radar in Aotearoa New Zealand (AoNZ) until it was caught on camera. The digitising of our nationally significant collections and databases by Manaaki Whenua researchers provided the opportunity for serendipitous discoveries, which is how a species of the Ichneumonidae family (Amblyaclastus melanops), a parasitoid wasp within the insect order Hymenoptera, came to be found.
The oparasitoid wasp Amblyaclastus melanops

The oparasitoid wasp Amblyaclastus melanops

Researchers digitising the New Zealand Arthropod Collection – Ko te Aitanga Pepeke o Aotearoa discovered the exotic wasp, which was first recorded in 1975, when it was found in Arapuni in the Waikato. The record indicates that the specimen had been reared from the egg sac of the knobbled orb weaver spider (Socca pustulosa). The spider was accidentally introduced to AoNZ from south-eastern Australia and is now widespread across AoNZ.

Senior researcher and entomologist Dr Darren Ward says there are very few records of Hymenoptera using spiders as a host in New Zealand. “This emphasises the need to not only know what species we have in Aotearoa but to document and understand any new relationships and behaviours, as they give insight into how new incursions may occur.”

Over 260 parasitoid wasp species have been accidentally introduced to AoNZ.