Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 12:53 UK

New parasite wasp species found

Dr Chris Williams with Mesoleptus hibernica
The new wasp has been named after the ancient Latin name for Ireland

A new species of parasitic wasp has been identified after it hatched on a scientist's desk.

Dr Chris Williams, who is originally from Hengoed, in south Wales, made the chance discovery while studying the life-cycle of marsh flies in Ireland.

He had been waiting for flies to hatch in jam jars when two different species of parasitic wasp emerged instead.

The eggs of the new species are laid inside fly larvae and when hatched the bug eats the maggot.

It then develops before emerging as an adult wasp.

The insects had been collected from a field in Ardkill Turlough, County Mayo.

To mark the find, the new wasp has been named after the ancient Latin name for Ireland - Mesoleptus hibernica.

Dr Williams, a post doctoral fellow, was studying at the National University of Ireland, Galway, when he made the discovery.

Jam jars

He said: "I came across two little black marsh fly puparia (case of the pupa) and kept them in jam jars on my desk expecting that adult marsh flies might hatch but what emerged were two different species of parasitic wasp.

"After resisting the temptation to name it after someone I know - who really wants to be named after a parasite? - we settled on naming it Mesoleptus hibernica in honour of the country where it was discovered."

Dr Williams had been researching snail-killing marsh flies when the wasp emerged.

"Mud snails carry liverfluke and the larvae of marsh flies act as biological controls, having a positive impact on the instances of liverfluke by keeping the snail populations down," Dr Williams said.

"Any species impacting the marsh fly population will have a negative effect on the natural control that exists for the liverfluke-carrying mud snails."

A team of scientists from Italy, Finland and the UK were brought together to identify the wasp.

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