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Title: Description of Nanocthulhu lovecrafti, a preternatural new genus and species of Trichoplastini (Figitidae: Eucoilinae)

item Buffington, Matthew

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2011
Publication Date: 2/4/2012
Citation: Buffington, M.L. 2012. Description of Nanocthulhu lovecrafti, a preternatural new genus and species of Trichoplastini (Figitidae: Eucoilinae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 114:5-15.

Interpretive Summary: Gall wasps and their relatives represent a group that contains numerous agricultural pests, as well as many predators important in biological control. In most cases, the biological attributes of these wasps are poorly known. Some species induce unsightly and damaging galls, other species are parasitoids of economically important species of flies that attack plants and livestock. The new genus and species described in this paper possesses characters unlike any other known wasp species. This paper provides detailed morphological information that will assist a broad array of scientists in better understanding the relationships, evolution, and feeding habits of these enigmatic wasps.

Technical Abstract: A new genus and species, Nanocthulhu lovecrafti, is described. This genus is characterized by having a fuscina along the dorsal margin of the clypeus. This three-pronged protrusion is unique within Hymenoptera. The genus is also characterized by the possession of a corniculum, and the shared possession to this trait with Stentorceps makes these two genera sister-taxa. A phylogenetic analysis presented here, based on morphology, recovered Stentorceps + Nanocthulhu as sister-group to Trichoplasta and Rhoptromeris; based on these data, Nanocthulhu is hereby classified in Trichoplastini. In addition to external skeletal features, wing interference patterns are also described for this new taxon. Though the biology of this unusual wasp is unknown, the head morphology suggests digging is involved at some point in its life history.