New species of wasp found in Maine

November 16, 2017

For more information, contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Discovered in search for the winter moth

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service announced that a new species of wasp has been found in Maine. Hillary Morin Peterson of Brunswick Maine discovered a new species of Pteromalidae wasp while conducting her thesis work in collaboration with the Maine Forest Service. The new discovery is detailed in a recently published paper.

Hillary named the wasp after the motto of her home state of Maine, Ormocerus dirigoius Morin & Gates. Hillary was born and raised in Maine, before attending and graduating from the University of Maine. In addition to supporting her thesis work, the Maine Forest Service also supported her continued research at the Smithsonian. She is now a graduate student in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University.

Ormocerus dirigoius

Ormocerus dirigoius, the new species of wasp (pictured), is about 2.7 mm long (the size of a grain of rice). These tiny, non-stinging wasps actually have nothing to do with winter moth but were swept up as by-catch. They are in a genus that are believed to be either parasitoids of gall inducing cynipid wasps or inqulines (that kill the gall inducers by outcompeting them for the gall tissue that they eat). Little is known about the biology of O. dirigoius, although it may be associated with galls on red oak trees. The specimens were all collected in oak dominated forest stands and four specimens were collected from beatings of oak trees.

Hillary’s senior honors thesis was on research into the relationship between predatory and parasitoid Hymenoptera (wasps) and the invasive winter moth species (Operophtera brumata) inside and outside of the infestation area in Harpswell, Maine. In order to learn more about identifying wasps, Hillary attended the Hymenoptera Blitz at Acadia National Park in 2015 with financial support from the Maine Entomological Society and carpooled to the Blitz with Dr. Robert Kula. Hillary continued identifying the Hymenoptera after she graduated and was able to secure an internship in Dr. Kula’s lab, where she met and also collaborated with Dr. Michael Gates at the Smithsonian to further her work.

H. D. Morin, Mikó, I. and Gates, M. October 2017. A New Species of Ormocerus Walker (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) from North America and a Range Expansion for Ormocerus latus Walker. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 119(4):619-628.

Contact: Hillary Morin Peterson, (207) 841-0581 Charlene Donahue, (207) 287-3244

Supporting documents

Ormocerus dirigoius