Discovering new species of wasps in Costa Rica

April 12, 2018

Costa Rican school child with onlookers, photo by Lindsa Fendt

Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) in Costa Rica is home to a vast diversity of insects – 20 of which are now named after Costa Rican school children thanks in part to Dr. Alex Smith in the department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph.  Dr. Smith was part of a team that discovered, described, and named the previously unknown species of insects (tiny wasps to be exact).  One of the aims of the research was to better understand insects that parasitize browsing caterpillars in the ACG forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Preserve.  Since most of the wasps live in endangered tropical forest habitats, research projects such as this one are essential to grow our knowledge of these systems in order to protect them more effectively.

The school children, who now have tiny wasp namesakes, were winners of a local art competition inspired by the wild forests that surrounds them.  So, the next time you are strolling through one of the beautiful Costa Rican forests, keep your eyes open for wasps by the likes of Promicrogaster alexmartinezi, Promicrogaster naomiduarteae, and Promicrogaster hillaryvillafuerteae, to name just a few.

Read more here: 


Fernández-Triana J, Boudreault C, Dapkey T, Smith MA, Rodriguez J, Hallwachs W, Janzen DH (2016) Revision of the genus Promicrogaster (Hymenoptera, Braconidae, Microgastrinae) from Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica, with a key to all species previously described from Mesoamerica. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 50: 25-79.