Giant Wasp

The Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth – there is so much we don’t know, so many species we are still unaware of. So the discovery of a new wasp in the Amazon is cause for celebration. And this new, parasitic wasp has some rather gruesome, yet amazing adaptations.

Photo Credit – Kari Kaunisto, Unité de la Biodiversité de L’Université de Turku.

The bright yellow, giant-headed wasp only grows to be 0.7 inches (1.7 cm) long. But if you are another insect, beware. These wasps, Capitojoppa amazonica, stab their prey (other insects), suck out the fluid, then devour them from the inside out. It gets better…

The female wasp looks for a host in which to lay a single egg, including caterpillars, beetles, and sometimes spiders. When she finds a potential host, she uses her antennae to check it out. If she finds the host acceptable after stroking it with her antennae, she will pierce it with her ovipositor and deposit an egg. In a few days the egg hatches. The larvae proceeds to eat the insides of their host for a nutritious and delicious meal. They stay inside the corpse of the host as they develop their own hard, protective shell, or pupae. Once they have transformed into an adult, they finally emerge.

The team that discovered Capitojoppa amazonica also discovered over 100 other new species. The gruesome details of their adaptations are yet unknown.