New wasp species discovered in Abu Dhabi's protected areas

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The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has discovered eight new invertebrate species in four different protected areas of the emirate.

All the newly discovered species belong to the same family of wasps (Hymenoptera: Spheciformes: Crabronidae) and are known as Digger Wasps.

They were found in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Al Bida Protected Area, Barqa Saqoor Protected Area and Houbara Protected Area – all of which are part of the EAD’s Sheikh Zayed Network of Protected Areas.

"This confirms that the emirate is a biodiversity hotspot that is home to several species not found in any other part of the world. It is also a sign of our commitment to research – one of our main strategic priorities – and the reason why we were able to make this discovery," said Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD.

"We look forward to sharing our expertise with partners all across the globe on our scientific methods as well as detailed information about our new species," she added.

Digger wasps are solitary wasps, and females make a nest for their young. In the nest, the females will lay eggs on paralysed insects so that when the young wasp larvae hatch, they have fresh food available.

After feeding on the prey, the larvae will pupate and eventually emerge from the nest as adult wasps. These adult wasps will then look for a mate and if the wasp is a female, it will begin to prepare and provide a nest for its own eggs.

The EAD's scientists used Malaise Traps which is a net-like structure mounted on a metal frame. This helps to catch flying insects and funnel them into a bottle with a preservative solution.

Insects collected are sorted by EAD scientists and in collaboration with international entomological experts, the long process of taxonomic research and publication is undertaken to describe a species new to science.

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