Children in Washington Heights Name a New Wasp

Students at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School debated several options for naming a newly found wasp and opted for "Laluzbrillante." (Photo provided to El Diario)

Students at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School debated several options for naming a newly found wasp and opted for “Laluzbrillante.” (Photo provided to El Diario)

Children in the sixth grade at the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) left their mark on science by naming a new species of parasitic wasp from the Dominican Republic.

Entomologist Bernardo Santos, a Ph.D. student at the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History, discovered a new species of wasp of the Necolinoceras genus, but wanted its name to represent its origin when writing his report.

The kids named this new species “Laluzbrillante” (“Bright Light”), to represent the “brightness of the Dominican Republic and the brightness of the wasp’s wings,” said Santos. The wasp will enter the scientific community as Necolinoceras Laluzbrillante.

“When I discovered this new species, I decided to write a report to present to the scientific community, but I realized that I didn’t have a name for the wasp,” said Santos, who decided to turn to the Dominican community in Washington Heights to find an appropriate name.

Santos said that the WHEELS students were delighted with the opportunity and paid special interest to the wasp’s moving mechanism, which they described as “something from the movie ‘Alien’.”

"laluzbrillante" (Photo via El Diario)

“Laluzbrillante” (Photo via El Diario)

“The adult parasitic wasp injects eggs inside another insect. When the larvae hatch, they feed on the host insect inside out,” said Santos. He also explained that these parasitic wasps are quite useful in agriculture since they are frequently used as a natural pesticide and are not harmful to humans.

Santos explained that the name was chosen by vote. Each child proposed and explained an idea. Later, three sixth-grade classes voted on their favorite.

“I loved the name that the children chose. It seems very poetic and well thought out,” said Santos. “I could not have chosen a better one.” Santos also added that some of the options did not seem suitable, but he welcomed the outcome of the vote.

“The children debated among many options for names,” said Santos, who added that possibilities included options like “Dominican Killer Wasp” or “Punta Cana” because the wasp is native to that area.

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