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

jwhitfie at life.illinois.edu jwhitfie at life.illinois.edu
Wed Feb 21 13:53:30 CST 2018

Hi Jose,

Our group described Venanus kusikuyllurae from quinoa fields in Peru as
high as 3800+ meters (Whitfield et al. 2011 Annals of the ESA) - probably
they occur higher up as well but maybe not in managed crops.  Most of the
species in this genus are in mountains, albeit usually not about 4500m!!
They are morphologically rather unusual for microgastrines, as you know.

Generally, the higher elevation braconids from other groups I've seen have
a tendency to have relatively long and narrow wings, slender body and
appendage form, and (as you mention) exaggerated mouthparts. Also dark
body coloration. Not sure what all of that means, if anything.

Mason and the CNC crew had an expedition to valleys in the Himalayas many
years ago - it's possible they hit some high elevation sites as well. The
publication by Mani seems like it should have some clues as well.


> Hello,
> 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,
> Jose
> --
> 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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James B. Whitfield
Department of Entomology
320 Morrill Hall
505 S. Goodwin Avenue
University of Illinois
Urbana, IL 61801

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