The tiny Ormocerus dirigoius is about 2.7 mm long – the size of a grain of rice.

A former University of Maine student has discovered a new species of wasp.

Brunswick native Hillary Morin Peterson discovered the wasp species while doing field work for her thesis in Harpswell. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry announced the discovery on Thursday.

Peterson swept up the small, non-stinging wasp as by-catch while she was collecting specimens of invasive winter moths.

Peterson named the wasp Ormocerus dirigoius in honor of Maine’s motto, “Dirigo,” which means “I lead” in Latin.

All the wasp specimens were collected in oak forest groves and four were collected from beatings of oak trees.

Peterson wrote her senior honors thesis on the predatory and parasitic  relationship some wasps have with the winter moths that have invaded  Maine from the south in recent years


As a UMaine student she wanted to learn more about wasps and joined faculty in the Hymenoptera (Wasp) Blitz at Acadia National Park in 2015. That led to a research stint at the Smithsonian. She’s now a graduate student in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University.

Her discovery of the Ormocerus dirigoius is documented in a recent edition of the Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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