New Zealand Wasp, Lusius malfoyi and namesake, Lucius Malfoy

In the attempt of clearing the tainted name of wasps native to New Zealand, a Kiwi researcher has named one species after a Harry Potter character.

Unlike similar pests, New Zealand parasitoid wasps do not sting nor live in colonies.

To redeem their soiled reputation, Tom Saunders, a University of Auckland doctoral student, scientifically described one common native species and even named it Lusius malfoyi.

According to Saunders, he used the name because Malfoy had a bad reputation in the books himself but is redeemed in the end — just like what the doctoral student is doing now.

In the Harry Potter series, Lucius Malfoy and his family salvage their name when they abandon Voldemort, the story’s main antagonist.

Saunders and his fellow researchers noted in New Zealand Entomologist how the parasitoid wasps’ study could “be described as an enjoyable and ‘magical’ experience”.

However, the wasps are not completely pleasant.

Their reproductive technique involves injecting eggs into caterpillars with the larvae feeding inside the body as the host slowly died.

In New Zealand, parasitoid wasps are utilised as environmental tools, with introduced species being used in the management of an array of horticultural pests.

The doctoral research of Saunders aimed to test the feasibility of introducing parasitoid wasps to control brown marmorated stink bugs.

“The stink bug has recently been classified as a top environmental threat by the Ministry for Primary Industries and real effort is being made to keep it out of the country,” Saunders said.

“Where it has spread, in places like Europe and North America, it is causing real destruction and economic cost,” he added.

‘Good’ native wasp gets Harry Potter moniker | Otago Daily Times Online News. (9 Oct 2017).

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