Parasitic wasp spotted at Kent nature reserve is confirmed to be new genus and species to Britain
A species of wasp that has never been recorded in the country has been discovered at a British nature reserve.
The parasitic wasp, Lymantrichneumon disparis, now known to be a genus and a new species to Britain, was found by a butterfly collector at the RSPB’s Broadwater Warren near Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
But is has taken two years for experts to confirm the 2013 discovery made by Tony Davis, of Butterfly Conservation, who was undertaking a moth monitoring programme when he came across the specimen.
He said: “I’d finished my work and was leaving the reserve but couldn’t resist one last sweep on my net and that’s when I found the wasp. I knew it was something special, but I could never have guessed it was an entirely new species to the country.”
Dr Gavin Broad, an expert on ichneumonid wasps, employed by the Natural History Museum, has confirmed the species which has no common name and no other specimen has yet been found.
Broad said he believed the find had been a recent colonist from continental Europe.
He said: “It’s not uncommon to find parasitic wasps new to Britain, but to find a new genus for the country that is large and showy is very unusual and good evidence of change in our fauna.
“I knew almost immediately what this wasp was as I’d recently been looking at some Japanese specimens of Lymantrichneumon dispar. It was rather surprising to see one from Britain! Inevitably, it took me quite a while to publish on this.”
In Europe, the wasp lives off a few related moth species including the gypsy moth, which has recently colonised parts of southern England, and it is thought the new wasp species might have arrived along with this other new arrival.
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