New species of cockroach-killing wasps discovered in 25-million-year-old amber

New species of cockroach-killing wasps discovered in 25-million-year-old amber

This flag wasp was trapped in amber 25 million years ago.

George Poinar Jr./Oregon State University

If you hate roaches you might find some satisfaction in a fascinating piece of ancient insect history that recently came to light.

Oregon State University entomologist George Poinar Jr. discovered four new species of flagworm in 25-million-year-old amber found in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Those wasps that kill cockroaches are still around today, and the amber finds offer a fascinating glimpse into their past.

Poinar is the author of a study of the amber-cloaked wasps published this month in the paleobiological journal Historical Biology.

This is one of four new species of flagworm trapped in 25 million year old amber.

George Poinar Jr./Oregon State University

Flagworms let their young do the cockroach-killing chores. Female wasps lay eggs in or on a cockroach egg carton.

“When the wasp egg hatches, the larva eats the cockroach egg where it was laid,” said Oregon State University. The larva uses the egg box as protection as it approaches adulthood.

“Our study shows that these wasps were around 20 or 30 million years ago and likely had the same behavioral patterns with regards to cockroaches,” Poinar said in an OSU statement on Friday.

The wasps are an exact match for some of Poinar’s other amber discoveries, including a fascinating one Escaped, a microinvertebrate “Mold pig” and a strange looking “ET” insect.

Poinar did not find any cockroaches in the petrified tree sap along with the wasp debris, but he did discover some flying termites that may have shared the room with cockroaches.

And if you see a flag wasp today, it’s a friend, not an enemy. They don’t sting, but they do cause cockroaches.

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