July 25, 2014 - * The largest aquatic insect in the world has been found in Chengdu, China * It is of the order Megaloptera
and has a wingspan of 8.3 inches (21 cm) * This is larger than the previous record, which stood at 7.5 inches (19 cm) * The giant insect has huge mandibles that it uses during mating * Can be found near wet environments such as lakes but lives just a few days A newly discovered member of the Megaloptera
family has been found that could be the largest aquatic insect in the world. It was found on a mountain in Chengdu, Sichuan province in China. The mysterious specimen of which little is known has a wingspan of 8.3 inches (21 centimetres). The family of Megaloptera
includes about 300 species
of fishflies, dobsonflies and alderflies. The name Megaloptera
describes that insects have large (megal) wings (ptera) compared to their bodies
And this latest find is no exception, dwarfing other such insects of the order. According to Scientific American
members of the Megaloptera
family are not well known. When they are larvae they spend a lot of time out of sight in the water, only leaving when they pupate and they become adults. They can be found in or near a variety of wet environments including ponds, lakes and swamps. The huge mandibles at the front of the insect, meanwhile, are not used for eating but rather to attract females and hold them in place during mating. The species is also known for its ferocious bite, which can break human skin. Megaloptera
insects typically live for only a few days as adults, so many will spend there few days of adulthood mating, producing new larvae to grow underwater. With a wingspan 8.3 inches (21 centimetres), this species breaks the previous record holder for largest aquatic insect, the South American helicopter damselfly, which has a wingspan of 7.5 inches (19 centimetres).
FROM BIG TO SMALL... TINY SPECIES OF WASP DISCOVERED A scientist discovered a new species of wasp less than a millimetre long living in a tree in his son's school playground. Dr Andrew Polaszek, an insect expert at London's Natural History Museum, found the wasp inside whiteflies on a maple tree. He said: 'I noticed some of the whiteflies looked slightly different to the others so I took them to the laboratory. When I saw the wasp inside I knew it looked different to anything I'd seen before.' Dr Polaszek, 54, made the discovery five years ago at Sevenoaks Primary School in Kent, where his son Timothy was a pupil. But rigorous tests to establish the wasp as a new species - named Encarsia harrisoni - have only just been completed. The wasp, which Dr Polaszek named after fellow Sevenoaks scientist Dr David Harrison, is a parasitoid, meaning it lays its eggs inside other insects.
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