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Stinger Bell! Idris Elba has a WASP named after him because it ‘protects’ crops

 Idris Elda, the British actor best known for his ‘tough guy’ roles in TV series Luther and The Wire, has had a species of wasp named after him.  

The insect, which was first detected in Guanajuato, Mexico, takes the sting out of a bug that has been wreaking havoc on some crops in North America, say scientists.  

It has been likened to Elba’s character Heimdall in Thor, who is based on the Norse god Heimdallr – the sole protector of the bridge linking the human world and the realm of the gods.  

Study co author Dr Elijah Talamas, fromthe Florida State Collection of Arthropods, said: ‘It might prove to be a Heimdall-like “protector” for many crops.’

Female wasp of the newly described species Idris elba. It combats the invasive stink bug Bagrada hilaris by ‘parasitising’ its eggs

The Idris elba wasp combats the invasive stink bug Bagrada hilaris, commonly known as the Painted bug, by ‘parasitising’ its eggs.

The bug recently established itself in the US, wreaking havoc on cabbages, broccoli, green beans, peppers, potatoes and other vegetables – as well as fruit and cotton.

Stink bugs strike fear into the hearts of farmers across the world because they eat everything in their path.

Experts hope Idris elba will be the ultimate weapon in the battle against the Painted bug.

Dr Talamas said: ‘So far, measures to halt the bug’s invasion have proven largely ineffective, and its distribution is expected to reach new ecosystems of economical importance.’

The tiny parasitic wasp may work by mistaking the eggs of the stink bug for those of a spider, say the international team.

They describe Idris elba as an ‘unlikely wasp enemy of a serious alien pest in North America.’

It was first spotted infesting the eggs of the Painted bug in cruciferous vegetables in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Now an analysis of its biology reported in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research has confirmed it is new to science.

Team member Dr Tara Gariepy, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, used advanced methods in molecular forensics to confirm the results.

Non-parasitized (left) compared with a parasitised (right) bagrada bug egg, where an Idris elba wasp was observed to emerge

Non-parasitized (left) compared with a parasitised (right) bagrada bug egg, where an Idris elba wasp was observed to emerge

She matched the DNA of the adult Idris elba wasp with that left behind in the stink bug egg from which it emerged.

The specimens were then sent to taxonomist Dr Talamas who decided it was an undescribed species.

Usually, it would have been named after a scientist, rather than a celebrity. But there was already a group of wasps known as Idris – so adding ‘elba’ seemed only natural. 

Lead author Dr Refugio Lomeli-Flores, of the Graduate College, Montecillo, Mexico, said: ‘Species of Idris were previously known to only parasitise spider eggs.

‘So it was very unexpected when specimens of Idris were found to emerge from eggs of the Bagrada bug.’

The genus Idris was first described in 1856 and now contains over 300 species – with many more yet to be identified.

Bagrada hilaris recently established itself in the US, wreaking havoc on cabbages, broccoli, green beans, peppers, potatoes and other vegetables - as well as fruit and cotton

Bagrada hilaris recently established itself in the US, wreaking havoc on cabbages, broccoli, green beans, peppers, potatoes and other vegetables – as well as fruit and cotton

Dr Lomeli-Flores said: ‘The discovery of this wasp marks an important step toward the development of efficient and natural control of the stink bug species Bagrada hilaris in North America.’

The Painted bug is native to Africa, but is already an established and important pest of over 74 plant species in India, southern Europe, southern Asia and the Middle East.

Across the Atlantic, it has been known since 2008, when it was reported from Los Angeles, followed by records from Coahuila state, Mexico, in 2014.

Three years later, it was also found in the state of Guanajuato, which is responsible for over 70 percent of the country’s broccoli production.

While not unheard of, it is uncommon for native parasites to attack an introduced host.

Dr Lomeli-Flores said: ‘Idris elba is exceptional because it demonstrates these wasps can make the leap from parasitising the eggs of spiders to the eggs of stink bugs.’

Idris Elba as Heimdall in Marvel's 2017 superhero film Thor: Ragnarok. The character of Heimdall is based on the Norse god Heimdallr

Idris Elba as Heimdall in Marvel’s 2017 superhero film Thor: Ragnarok. The character of Heimdall is based on the Norse god Heimdallr

It is no coincidence that this wasp has the species name ‘elba’, said Dr Talamas.

He explained: ‘Explicitly naming the species after Idris Elba the actor, also known as a patronym, would have to follow Latin grammar and become Idris elbai.

‘By treating the second name as an arbitrary combination of letters, the grammar was avoided.’

Elba is best known for his roles in blockbusters including the superhero movies inspired by the Marvel comic books. He is also a four-time Golden Globe nominee. 

Another recently discovered wasp Conobregma bradpitti was named after Brad Pitt because one of the scientists spent hours working in her lab under a poster of him.

A new species of dragonfly was named Acisoma attenboroughi to mark naturalist Sir David Attenborough’s 90th Birthday.

And a rare horse fly Scaptia beyonceae was named after Beyonce in honour of its impressive golden behind.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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