A New Zealand doctoral student with a mission to clear wasps of their bad reputation has named a native species after a Harry Potter villain.
“I used the name Lusius malfoyi because Malfoy is a character in the books with a bad reputation who is ultimately redeemed.
“I’m trying to redeem the reputation of our native wasps,” Auckland doctoral student Tom Saunders said in a statement.
Unlike their cousins, the German wasp or Asian paper wasp, New Zealand’s native parasitoid wasps, of which there are thought to be 3,000 endemic species, do not sting and don’t live in colonies.
They do have a ghastly way of reproducing though: The insects inject eggs into the bodies of caterpillars with the larvae feeding inside the caterpillar’s body as the host slowly dies.
Parasitoid wasps can be used to control a range of horticultural pests.
Saunders’ research aims to test the viability of introducing a wasp to control the colourfully named brown marmorated stink bug, which can attack a wide range of New Zealand crops and infest homes.