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Two new spider-hunting wasps

Abernessia giga: new species is 2.8 cm long

CECÍLIA WAICHERTAbernessia giga: new species is 2.8 cm longCECÍLIA WAICHERT

Two new species of spider-hunting wasps, given this name because their females parasitize spiders, were described by a pair of entomologists at Utah State University, the Brazilian Cecilia Waichert and the American James P. Pitts (ZooKeys, November 20, 2013). Both of the wasps are black, have a bright metallic tone and belong to the rare genus Abernessia found only in sections of the Brazilian Cerrado and Atlantic forest. This genus had only two known species, but now has four. Found in the state of Espírito Santo, one of the new species is called Abernessia capixaba in an allusion to this location. The other—a female discovered in the state of Minas Gerais—was large for this kind of insect, at 2.8 cm long, and therefore was named Abernessia giga. The female wasps inject a paralyzing substance in spiders when stinging. They then carry the captured prey to their nest, lay their eggs on the abdomen of the spider and bury it. The arachnid serves as food for the larvae. “We still don’t know anything about the wasps of this genus, not even which spiders are its prey,” says Waichert. “But the discovery of these two species increases our knowledge of the diversity, incidence and morphology of this group.”