(INSECTS/NEW SPECIES) The newest species of wasp discovered in Thailand received it’s official name after the Natural History Museum in Berlin hosted a public vote.
The name Ampulex dementor, inspired by J.K. Rowling’s “dementor” characters in the Harry Potter series was chosen to reflect the wasps’ practice of sucking the life out of cockroaches, much like the dementors in the famous series who suck the souls out of their victims.
Read the full article below for more details on the fascinating new creature. — Global Animal
Nature World News, Jenna Iacurci
A newly discovered species of wasp in Southeast Asia that sucks the life out of cockroaches was appropriately named after the terrifying dementors from J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.
Ampulex dementor was so named as “an allusion to the wasps’ behavior to selectively paralyze its cockroach prey,” according to the report published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The Natural History Museum in Berlin let the public vote on a name for the wasp, known for its ability to turn cockroaches into zombies with one sting. The fictional, shadowy prison guards of Azkaban that are dementors, likewise, also literally suck the life out of their prey – only they use a kiss of death.
“Our public voting of a taxonomic name was received very positively,” authors wrote in the paper. “Visitors were highly interested and during the event spent a significant amount of time asking for details and listening to explanations.”
It’s no wonder that museum visitors would choose this unique reference to one of the world’s most popular fantasy books, over the other options: A. mon, named for the native people of Thailand; A. bicolor, named for the wasp’s bi-coloring; and A. plagiator, named for its ant-like appearance, or “plagiarizing” of the ant.
Native to Thailand, A. dementor has bright red and black coloring, and is one of over 200 species of wasp which reproduces using a host incubator — in the wasp’s case, it uses the cockroach.
The female lands on top of a cockroach and uses its stinger to inject neurotoxins directly into the roach’s head. The cockroach immediately takes on a zombie-like obedient state and follows the wasp back to her burrow. There, she lays her egg inside the cockroach, which incubates the egg for a few days until it hatches. The larva then feeds on the roach that birthed it until it’s old enough to go off on its own, according to iflscience.com.
“What I find interesting about the name is that what is considered a fantasy among humans, the dementors of Harry Potter, is a reality in the world of insects,” Michael Sharkey, entomologist at the University of Kentucky and expert in Thai wasp species, said, according to The Independent.
This is not the first new species to be named after a famous figure, fantasy or otherwise. A small Costa Rican fly is named for Bill Gates and Bob Marley shares his name with a Caribbean micro-crustacean.