Entomologists have described three new species in the parasitoid wasp genus Cystomastacoides. One of them, Cystomastacoides kiddo, was named after the character Beatrix Kiddo in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ films.
Parasitoid wasps of the genus Cystomastacoides, family Braconidae, are known for their deadly reproductive habits. Most of them have their eggs developing in other insects and their larvae, eventually killing the respective host, or in some cases immobilizing it or causing its sterility. Three new species reflect this fatal behavior.
Two of the new species were discovered in Papua New Guinea, while the third one comes from Thailand. Their description appears in a paper published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research (JHR).
The deadly biology of Cystomastacoides kiddo inspired the reference to the protagonist played by Uma Thurman, where she embodies a deadly assassin.
The macabre in the name of one of the new species from Papua New Guinea references back to another strand of contemporary pop culture – Cystomastacoides nicolepeelerae is named after Nicole Peeler, the favorite novelist of Donald Quicke, the lead author of the JHR paper.
The name of the third species, Cystomastacoides asotaphaga, also from Papua New Guinea, lacks the popular culture element but still brings up the deadly survival techniques of the wasps described. In translation, it means feeding on Asota, described genus of moths whose caterpillar is eaten from the inside by the wasp’s larva and thus eventually killed.
Asota plana is the first host record for the genus to which the new species belong. It is a widespread moth species known to feed on multiple fig tree species.
With three new species from Papua New Guinea and Thailand, the JHR paper also extends the known range of the genus considerably. Previously, Cystomastacoides had been known only from a single species, Cystomastacoides coxalis, which was found only in mainland China.
Bibliographic information: Quicke DLJ et al. 2013. Cystomastacoides van Achterberg (Braconidae, Rogadinae): first host record and descriptions of three new species from Thailand and Papua New Guinea. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 31: 65; doi: 10.3897/JHR.31.3385