The Biological Warfare of Wasps

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The Biological Warfare of Wasps

All 186 wasp species recently discovered in Costa Rica are lethal killers—parasites that kill their caterpillar hosts in a macabre manner.

(Photos: Courtesy José L. Fernández-Triana)

February 28, 2014       By Richard Conniff
      Richard Conniff is the author of ‘The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth’ and other books.
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Earlier this year, a study came out describing a new plant species in the Andes that is the sole home of an estimated 40 or 50 kinds of insects. I thought that had a certain “wow” factor. It also seemed like a chance to write about “keystone species”—the ones on which whole ecosystems depend—and the ripple effects when such a species goes extinct.

So I asked for a comment from evolutionary ecologist Dan Janzen at the University of Pennsylvania, and he…

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