[Taxacom] Parasitoid wasps collected at altitudes of 4, 500 m or above

Dilrukshan Wijesinghe dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 21 10:52:36 CST 2018

Not a subject I know anything about but if my memory is reliable I think M S Mani published on high altitude insects from the Indian subcontinent & was a hymenopterist specializing in parasitic groups.

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On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 11:16 AM, Fernandez, Jose <Jose.Fernandez at AGR.GC.CA> wrote:


I would like to ask for help about insects found at high altitude. Many records in the literature are about butterflies, beetles or bumblebees, with most of the "highest records" reported at around/over 5,000 m. Many include individual specimens, collected while flying there (while others reached those heights perhaps just accidentally, being flown there by air currents,  a topic still debated in cases). But I have not seen any reference to parasitoid insects. Beyond accidental lifting by air currents, I am interested in parasitoid wasps actually living at those altitudes -or flying there to look for potential hosts or feeding on flowers. Hopefully someone in this list could help me or perhaps clarify some details?

I recently published a paper describing some new species of North American Microgastrinae parasitoid wasps. Among them, Microplitis altissimus, was collected in Mount Evans, Colorado, at altitudes between 3,658m (holotype) to 4,267 (paratypes). As far as I know, those are the specimens of Microgastrinae wasps collected at the highest altitude in North America. You can see the open access paper here, including pictures: https://zookeys.pensoft.net/articles.php?id=22869

At first I thought that those wasps were just accidental findings there, but the amount of material I have seen from that mountain (including several genera of Microgastrinae that I am currently studying), and the fact that the collecting events (seen by me) include several months and years, make me suspect that at least some of those wasps are there indeed for a reason. [As a side note, many of the specimens from that altitude and locality have enlarged mouth parts, perhaps related to feeding in some specific flowers from the alpine meadows there... again, an indirect evidence that those wasps are perhaps living or at least commonly visiting those altitudes?].

In North America I am guessing that it would be difficult to "beat" that record, as higher mountains in the continent tend to be farther north. But I am sure that specimens from the Andes and Himalaya (plus some African mountains) could easily be found at 4,500m or over. And thus I finally arrive to my questions. Is there anyone in this list that knows of records (or have specimens) of parasitoid wasps collected at 4,500m or higher? Would someone here be interested in studying the braconid subfamily Microgastrinae (strict parasitoids of Lepidopteran caterpillars) from those altitudes? If so, I would love to join forces and work together with such specimens on some research project.

Thank you so much for any suggestion or information you can share. And my apologies for cross-posting this message!

All the best,

José L. Fernández-Triana, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Canadian National Collection of Insects (CNC)
960 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C6, CANADA
Phone: 613-759-1034. Email: jose.fernandez at agr.gc.ca<mailto:jose.fernandez at agr.gc.ca>
Alternative email : cnc.braconidae at gmail.com<mailto:cnc.braconidae at gmail.com>

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