Miropotes waikerieyeties Fagan-Jeffries & Austin

Fagan-Jeffries, Erinn P., Austin, Andrew D. & Investigators, Citizen Science Participants Of Insect, 2021, Four new species of parasitoid wasp (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) described through a citizen science partnership with schools in regional South Australia, Zootaxa 4949 (1), pp. 79-101: 93-98

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Miropotes waikerieyeties Fagan-Jeffries & Austin

sp. nov.

Miropotes waikerieyeties Fagan-Jeffries & Austin   sp. nov.

( Figs. 7-8 View FIGURE 7 View FIGURE 8 )

Material examined. Holotype: South Australia: ♀ Hart Lagoon, Waikerie , -34.171389 139.963611, 23.iv- 12.v.2020, E. Fagan-Jeffries & Waikerie PS YETies, M/T, EFJ2020MT37, Extraction 1044 ( SAMA: 32-45155, BOLD: AUMIC552-20). GoogleMaps  

Paratypes: Australian Capital Territory: ♂ Namadgi NP, Nursery Swamp Track, -35.6575 148.9577, Nov 29–Dec 9 2018, Evangelista & Rodriguez, 1049m, Bush Blitz BB-JR-013, M/T, Extraction 899, ( ANIC: 32 130301, BOLD: AUMIC554-20) GoogleMaps   Queensland: ♀ Samsonvale Cemetery, -27.2703 152.856, 22.x-13.xi.2014, S. Wright, M/ T in Casuarina /open forest 8.5km SSE Dayboro, Extraction 204 ( QM: T208411, BOLD: AUMIC089-18) GoogleMaps   . ♂ data as holotype but dates 13–27.v.2020, EFJ2020MT39, Extraction 1171 ( SAMA: 32-45156, BOLD: AUMIC553-20) GoogleMaps   .

Diagnosis. Miropotes waikerieyeties   strongly resembles M. burringbaris Austin, 1990   , and keys to that species in Fernández-Triana et al. (2014a), but can be distinguished from it both on molecular data (COI barcode> 10% divergent) and by the carina running from the anterior point of the pentagonal propodeal areola to the anterior edge of the propodeum being significantly shorter, i.e. the pentagonal areola covering a larger proportion of the length of the propodeum ( Fig. 8 View FIGURE 8 ).

Description. FEMALE. Colour. Head dark with white gena spot at posterior-ventral corner of eye, antenna and mesosoma all dark; all tergites and most of metasoma including hypopygium and ovipositor sheaths dark, non sclerotised areas of T1–2 and anterior sternites white; (fore-, mid-, hind coxa) pale, pale, dark; (fore-, mid-, hindtrochanter) all pale; femora (fore-, mid-, hind femur) pale/light brown, light brown, mostly dark; tibiae (fore-, mid-, hind tibia) pale/light brown, light brown, light brown; tarsi (fore-, mid-, hind tarsi) all light brown; tegula and humeral complex pale; pterostigma uniformly dark; fore wing veins mostly dark.

Body length. Head to apex of metasoma: 2.75 mm (2.7 mm).

Head. Antenna slightly shorter than body length; OOL/POD 2.6 (2.7); POL/ POD 1.8 (1.8); antennal flagellomere 2 length/width 3.8 (4.0); antennal flagellomere 14 length/width 1.3 (1.3).

Mesosoma. Anteromesoscutum regularly punctate, clearly defined smooth and shiny spaces between large punctures; number of pits in scutoscutellar sulcus approximately 8, but irregular in size and definition and in holotype not in a straight line, the line of pits curved downwards at centre producing a smooth space above pits in centre of scutellar disk. Scutellar disc very smooth, with only very shallow pits associated with setae. Propodeum smooth, complete pentagonal areola, taller than it is wide (measuring from inside the areola carinae, anterior-posterior line ( Fig. 8A View FIGURE 8 .ii) 0.21 mm, transverse line ( Fig. 8A View FIGURE 8 .iii) 0.18 mm), with the carinae from the top of the pentagon to the anterior edge of the propodeum ( Fig. 8A.i View FIGURE 8 ) measuring 0.04 mm, ratio of the length of that carina to the anteriorposterior line 0.19.

Wings. Fore wing length 2.14 mm (1.9 mm); fore wing areolet enclosed, moderately large (not reduced to slit) triangular in shape, length of veins r/2RS 1.2 (1.0); length of veins 2RS/2M 0.9 (0.9); length of veins 2M/(RS+M)b 1.0 (1.4); pterostigma length/width 3.4 (2.7).

Legs. Hind tibia inner spur length/hind basitarsus length 0.24 (0.34).

Metasoma. T1 length / T1 width at posterior margin 2.3 (2.0); relatively parallel-sided, strongly longitudinally strigose, irregularly rugose in areas; T2 width at posterior margin / T2 length 1.4 (1.3), subtriangular, strongly longitudinally strigose, border with T3 shallowly crenulate; T3 sculpture strongly longitudinally strigose; ovipositor sheaths length/hind tibial length 0.24; ovipositor sharply bent to nearly 90 degrees at tip, ovipositor sheaths broadening posteriorly so that they are clavate at tip.

MALE. As female, antennae longer than body, eyes smaller in proportion to head size.

Etymology. This species was named by the 2020 Year 6/7 class of students at Waikerie Primary School, who named it for the school and the Youth Environment Team (nicknamed ‘the YETies’) who led the project. The species epithet is a noun in apposition.

Distribution. The species as it is currently defined is found in the Riverland region of South Australia, near Canberra in the ACT, and south of Brisbane in Queensland. The actual distribution of the species may be more extensive.

Host. Unknown.

Molecular information. Miropotes waikerieyeties   forms BOLD BIN: BOLD:ADL5296 and is 4.17% divergent from the nearest neighbour.

Remarks. Miropotes waikerieyeties   strongly resembles M. burringbaris   , and without molecular information we would have hesitated to describe it as a new species. Partial COI sequences (approximately 150 bp) of two paratypes of M. burringbaris   , one from the holotype locality of Rex Range in northern Queensland (BOLD: AUMIC555-20, QDPC 0-169243) were sequenced, and when compared to the available sequences of Microgastrinae   , the sequence of the paratype from the holotype locality was most closely related to a full length sequence of a specimen of Miropotes   sp. from Kuranda, northern Queensland (BOLD: AUMIC335-18), differing by four base pairs. This 658 bp COI sequence (AUMIC335-18), is over 10% divergent from the COI sequences of the specimens of Miropotes waikerieyeties   ( Figure 9 View FIGURE 9 ).

Whilst the partial COI sequences of the paratypes of M. burringbaris   contain several ambiguities, they are clearly distinct from the sequences of M. waikerieyeties   (9 base pairs different). This relatively large divergence, even over just 150 bp, along with the consistent morphological character (at least on the available specimens) of the propodeal areola proportions, allow us to feel confident that M. waikerieyeties   is a distinct species from M. burringbaris   . The propodeal areola was measured on images of the holotype of M. burringbaris   from the original description ( Austin 1990) and on two female specimens from the holotype locality (QDPC 0-169243 and 0-169244).

Evaluation of the citizen science project: survey of students. Students were asked whether their views on wildlife and science had changed over the course of the program. Of the students who responded and had consent to participate in the study (n=32), 66% stated that their interest in insects had increased, 84% indicated that their knowledge about insects in the local area had increased, whilst 59% felt their desire to protect their environment had increased ( Fig. 10 View FIGURE 10 ). Over half the students felt their connection to nature increased during that time period, whilst 41% stated that their interest in pursuing a career in science had increased. Interestingly, 15.6% of students stated their interest in pursuing a career in science had decreased during that time.

Some of the comments from students about their favourite part of the program included (spelling and grammar corrected for clarity): “that we got to name a bug”, “finding out about the new wasp”, “us checking the trap”, “finding a new species” and “learning about the funny [species] names and cool facts”. As the feedback survey was conducted immediately after a workshop that included lollies (candy/sweets) as part of a classification activity, several students also responded that the lollies were their favourite part of the whole program. This highlights that the timing of feedback surveys can have a significant impact on the responses, and it needs to be carefully considered when evaluating programs. The word cloud of these responses (n=27) suggests that students really appreciated the fact they were finding ‘new’ wasp species ( Fig. 11 View FIGURE 11 ).

Students listed many comments under the question “What is something you learnt from the Insect Investigators  project?”, including several which highlight that despite the difficulty in quantitatively evaluating the impacts of the program, students had clearly absorbed information and new knowledge. Comments included (spelling and grammar corrected for clarity): “that not all wasps sting”, “lots of bugs live in Cowell, they’re just really small”, “that new [species] can come [from] anywhere”, “that there are lots of unnamed bugs”, “that there are rules about naming insects”, “some [wasps] lay eggs in butterflies” and “that there are tiny, tiny wasps as well”.


South Australia Museum


Australian National Insect Collection


Queensland Museum