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Thor actor Idris Elba becomes namesake of new wasp species

The Idris elba wasp may be the ultimate protection against the destructive stink bug.

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Actor Idris Elba starred as Heimdall in the 2017 Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok. 

Marvel Studios

Actor Idris Elba has earned a pointed honor for his role as Norse gatekeeper Heimdall in Marvel's Thor movies. A wasp species has been named for him, according to a new study published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

The Idris elba wasp is a parasitic species that researchers hope will deter the stink bug species Bagrada hilaris, which damages crops across North America. This newly discovered wasp species could be the ultimate weapon in the battle against the stink bug -- also known as the painted bug -- by "parasitizing" stink bug eggs and thus preventing offspring from growing. 

Researchers are comparing the new wasp species to Elba's character Heimdall because they're both protectors. In the Thor movies, Heimdall protects Bifrost Bridge, which people use to go in and out of Asgard.

The Idris elba wasp "might prove to be a Heimdall-like 'protector' for many crops," study co-author Elijah Talamas of the Florida State Collection of Arthropods told the Daily Mail on Monday.

Other related wasps have been known to kill off spider eggs, but this is the first time scientists have seen a wasp act as a parasite toward stink bug eggs. 

wasps

1. Unparasitized egg of stink bug B. hilaris. 2. Egg of stink bug B. hilaris from which I. elba emerged. 3. Idris elba, female. 4. Idris elba, dorsal view 5 Idris elba, male.

Refugio Lomeli-Flores/Journal of Hymenoptera Research

Scientists first spotted the new wasp infesting the eggs of the stink bug in vegetable plants in Guanajuato, Mexico.

"Species of Idris were previously known to only parasitize spider eggs, so it was very unexpected when specimens of Idris were found to emerge from eggs of the Bagrada bug," study lead author Refugio Lomeli-Flores of the Graduate College in Montecillo, Mexico, told the Daily Mail. 

For the new study, researcher Tara Gariepy of Canada's Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food matched the DNA of remnants of an adult Idris elba wasp that was found inside a stink bug egg.

The specimens were then sent to taxonomist Talamas who determined that it was an "undescribed" species. There was already a group of parasitic wasps known as Idris, so scientists added "elba" for this new wasp.

Previously, other scientists named a newly discovered parasitic wasp species after the Xenomorphs from the sci-fi horror movie Alien because the wasps burst out of the chests of the insects they prey upon.