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Sci-Tech

Nightmare wasp species wields a giant stinger

"The stinger looks like a fierce weapon."

The Clistopyga crassicaudata wasp flies softly and carries a big stinger.

Kari Kaunisto

Most of us have a healthy fear of wasps, the angrier cousins of bees. 

Now most of us can also be thankful we don't share a habitat with a newly discovered wasp species found in the Amazon that has a jaw-droppingly large stinger.

Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland were surprised by the oversize stinger found on Clistopyga crassicaudata, which lives in a zone between the Andes mountains and the lowland rainforest area of the Amazon. 

"I have studied tropical parasitoid wasps for a long time but I have never seen anything like it," said University of Turku professor Ilari E. Sääksjärvi. "The stinger looks like a fierce weapon."

The stinger has a dual purpose. The wasp uses it to inject venom and for laying eggs into spiders or spider egg sacs. The venom paralyzes the spider allowing the female wasp to lay its eggs on its victim. The babies hatch as larvae and help themselves to the paralyzed arachnid.

The researchers aren't sure yet exactly which spider Clistopyga crassicaudata prefers to lay its eggs on, but hope to raise funding for further studies of the unusual insect and other parasitoid wasps in the Amazon.

The scientists published a description of the new wasp species in the journal Zootaxa.