Scientists in Japan have discovered a new wasp species that intentionally dive underwater to parasitize their prey.
A swimmer of sorts: Named after the popular sci-fi monster, the “Godzilla wasp” or Microgaster godzilla, reportedly swims to hunt for aquatic moth caterpillars that hide among underwater plants, according to Live Science.
- While there have been two other wasp species that are considered to be aquatic, this was the first species documented to dive completely and deliberately into the water, as noted by the study published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.
- Lead researcher Dr. Jose Fernandez-Triana of the Canadian National Collection of Insects and his team recorded the wasp as it attacked caterpillar hosts underwater.
- The wasp submerges itself completely for several seconds while looking for a suitable host.
- When it finds one, it then uses its powerful curved tarsal claws to force the caterpillar out of its casing.
- “The wasp suddenly emerges from the water to parasitize the host, similar to how Godzilla suddenly emerges from the water in the movies,” Fernandez-Triana, was quoted as saying.
- Once the wasp has successfully laid its eggs inside the hosts via oviposition, it then releases them back in the water.
- Eventually, the wasp larvae will eat the caterpillar from the inside as they hatch.
What’s in a name: Fernandez-Triana revealed that among the multiple reasons they decided to name the wasp after Godzilla was because they wanted to honor the iconic fictional character that also originated from Japan, according to Eureka Alert.
- “It has become one of the most recognizable symbols of Japanese popular culture worldwide,” he noted.
- He also likened the wasp’s participation behavior to the way the kaiju monster emerges from the water in the movies.
- Another point he shared was how Godzilla is linked with another kaiju called Mothra, which has been portrayed as a caterpillar or an adult moth.
- “As you can see, we had biological, behavioral and cultural reasons to justify our choice of a name,” he added. “Of course, that and having a bit of fun, because that is also an important part of life and science!’
Featured Image via Journal of Hymenoptera Research