Featured Arthropod: Gonatopus brooksi, Olmi 1984 (Hymenoptera: Dryinidae)

gonatopus-brooksiParasites are a world of wonders and parasitic wasps are no different. The larvae of the Dryinid wasps are known to parasitize leafhoppers (Andersen & Nielsen 1987). In this bizarre family we find the tiny wasp Gonatopus brooksi (Olmi, 1984; Hymenoptera: Dryinidae). The female wasp grasps leafhoppers (presumably Psammotettix lividellus (Andersen & Nielsen 1987)) with her front tarsi, which has been modified into a pair of pincers, and quickly paralyzes the insect for the egg laying process. The larvae grow on the outside of nymph and adult leafhoppers in a small sack, from where they eat the tissue of the leafhopper. The male of this wasp species is not yet known, which makes these little guys ever more fascinating (Böcher et al. 2015).

Thanks to Massimo Olmi we know that this species has only been recorded 20 times throughout the USA (16 records (Olmi unpublished)), Canada (2 records (Olmi, unpublished) and once (Olmi 1984) in Greenland (Andersen & Nielsen 1987)). This
genus, however, will be updated next year by Olmi, partly due to this year’s field work in Narsarsuaq, Greenland. During this summer 17 observations of G. brooksi were made through pitfall trapping by a couple of students of Aarhus University. When looking back, 3 individuals were also found in the material collected from pitfalls in 2014 in Narsarsuaq. Some of the specimens have been confirmed by Olmi through photos. Together these observations have doubled the amount of records of this species. If the males have not been found before next summer, it should be fairly possible to  find it during next year’s field work.

Mathias G. Skytte

References and links:

  • Böcher, J. et al. 2015. The Greenand Entomofauna: An identification Manual of Insects, Spiders and Their Allies. – Fauna entomologica Scandinavica; v. 44
  • Andersen, M. & Nielsen, P. 1987. Gonatopus brooksi Olmi 1984 found in Greenland (Hymenoptera, Dryinidae). – Ent. Med. 55:21-22.
  • Olmi, M. 1984. Revision of the Dryinidae – Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 37:1-1913-
  • Olmi unpublished. A new revision of the Gonatopus genus is coming out in 2017.
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