Abu Dhabi ecologists discover eight wasp species

The insects found in nature reserves all belong to the digger wasp family

Gastrosericus alwathbaensis is one of eight wasp species identified in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Environment Agency Abu Dhabi
Powered by automated translation

Abu Dhabi ecologists have identified eight species of wasps in the latest example of the emirate's thriving biodiversity.

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi said the insects are digger wasps and belong to the same family.

The species were discovered in the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Al Bida Protected Area, Barqa Saqoor Protected Area and Houbara Protected Area – all part of the agency's Sheikh Zayed Network of Protected Areas.

“We are extremely proud to announce that we have discovered eight species new to science in Abu Dhabi," said Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, secretary general of the agency.

"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 priorities – and the reason why we were able to make this discovery.

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

Dr Al Dhaheri said the find underlined the importance of safeguarding nature spots in the capital.

"The fact that these species were discovered within our protected areas is a testament to the fact that it is vital to always ensure that biodiversity is protected, allowing all types of species to thrive in their natural habitats.”

What are digger wasps?

Digger wasps are known to be solitary insects, which means the females make a nest for their young.

This behaviour contrasts with other members of the species, known as social wasps, which work together in maintaining a colony that can contain thousands of workers in support of a queen.

The agency’s scientists used malaise traps – which is a net mounted over a metal frame – to capture the insects and funnel them into a bottle with a preservative solution.

Insects collected are checked by agency 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.

The agency has an extensive collection of invertebrates, and all specimens and discoveries are maintained in a database which will soon be made available online for use by scientists, naturalists and the general public.

Latest discovery

In August, a species of moth was discovered on Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain.

It was spotted by wildlife researcher Huw Roberts and named Eretmocera hafeetensis, after the mountain where it was found.

It is part of the Scythrididae family of moths and is distinguished by a X marking.

Details about the find were published in the journal Nota Lepidopterologica, with the discovery highlighting the rich biodiversity of Jebel Hafeet, which is home to some of the UAE’s rarest plants and endangered animals.

Updated: December 25, 2023, 11:33 AM