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This is due to the fact that the wasp's reproduction is strictly parthenogenetic—the females produce more females without fertilization by a male. This is the main conclusion of the research, published in Scientific Reports.
According to Bonal, no males of this species have been recorded so far, and the high capacity of proliferation and reproduction of the females, which "clone" themselves, producing genetically identical daughters, give this insect a high invasive potential because a single specimen can give rise to a large contingent of invaders in a short space of time.
The rapid invasion of the chestnut gall wasp is causing considerable economic and ecological damage in the European chestnut sector. "Prevention is the best weapon we have at present, bearing in mind that the wasp propagates from one area to another via grafts," says the UEx researcher. This insect, which is the size of a grain of rice, oviposits on the buds of chestnut trees, but cannot be seen with the naked eye. The leaf buds open the following spring and the larvae begin to develop. During this process, fleshy galls form on the leaves and shoots of the tree and the larvae feed inside them.
A voracious pest that mutated in a German aquarium and is marching around the world without the need for sexual reproduction may sound like science fiction, but a genetic study has revealed that a rapidly spreading all-female army of crayfish is descended from a single female and reproduces without any males.