Biologists have discovered a new insect species at Rice University.
According to a news release from the university, the newly discovered insect Neuroterus valhalla, named after the place of its discovery outside the Rice graduate student pub Valhalla, is barely a millimeter long and spends 11 months of the year locked in a crypt.
According to the release, N. valhalla was first collected from the branches of a massive live oak tree on the campus in spring 2018, and it is the first insect species to be described alongside its fully-sequenced genome.
“N. valhalla and other gall wasps trick their host tree into feeding and sheltering their young. The wasps lay a biochemical cocktail along with their eggs. The chemicals coax the tree to form a crypt, or gall, around the egg. The gall shelters the egg and feeds larvae that hatch from it,” the news release reads.
Rice University researchers are preparing to see how the newly-discovered species may have been impacted by Houston’s historic February 2021 freeze.