Newly Discovered Wasp Has a Terrifyingly Large Stinger

Scientists just discovered a parasitic wasp with a monstrous stinger almost as big as its body.

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Kari Kaunisto

Scientists discovered a new wasp species with a terrifyingly large stinger. Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland recently discovered the Clistopyga crassicaudata, which lives between the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforests. "I have studied tropical parasitoid wasps for a long time, but I have never seen anything like it," said Ilari E. Sääksjärvi, a professor at the . "The stinger looks like a fierce weapon."

The wasp’s stinger isn’t only long, but also very wide, taking up almost the whole length of its body. Unlike bees, wasps can use their stingers multiple times. Female wasps have stingers that can either inject venom or lay eggs. Parasitoid wasps like the Clistopyga crassicaudata typically have a long ovipositor to lay eggs that is also used as a stinger. The Clistopyga has a particularly gruesome manner of laying eggs: first, the wasp finds spider nests, then paralyzes the spider with venom. Next, the wasp lays eggs on the spider. The hatching larva eats the spider as well as possible spider eggs or hatchlings.

“The giant stinger of the current species is very likely a highly sophisticated tool as well, but unfortunately we can only guess at its purpose,” says Professor Sääksjärvi. As upsetting as this wasp may seem, wasps are generally beneficial to humans. Pests insects are prey for many wasp species, as food or as hosts for parasite larvae. In fact, according to , agricultural industry routinely uses wasps to help protect crops.

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