Waspish tales

Vespa tropica, one of the dangerous varieties found in the State.

Vespa tropica, one of the dangerous varieties found in the State.  

Vespa tropica

THE STING of certain species of wasps could be fatal. And nine more species of wasps can be found in the State than have been tabulated so far.

This is the finding of a survey on wasps compiled by Lambert Kishore. Dr. Kishore has earned his doctorate from Calicut University for his study `Wasp species of Kerala' under the noted taxonomist T.C. Narendran. Dr. Kishore is a lecturer in the Department of Zoology, Malabar Christian College.

The last such study on wasps in Kerala was conducted in 1897 by an Englishman. The study can be found in `Fauna of British India'.

If you are stung by the species Vespa tropica, it could result in death. This species is one of the most poisonous in the State. Some time ago, a person in Wayanad died as a result of a sting of Vespa tropica. Two buffaloes also died of its sting. A child in Kozhikode city too feel victim to its sting.

The sting affects the nerves in the body. If bitten on the face by more than eight wasps, death is certain, Dr. Kishore says.

Traditional medicine is found to be an effective antidote. Though an anti-venom is yet to be discovered, adivasis smear turmeric on the sting.

The study on the habitats of wasps took more than four years and was a risky affair. On one such study at Muthanga in Wayanad, Dr. Kishore was attacked by a group of wasps. On two occasions, he had to be hospitalised.

The study gives details of 51 wasp species found in the State. Of these, nine are newly discovered.

The first of these nine was found on the Kerala-Karnataka border. The Roppalidiya Bangaloreca, measuring 8.2mm, was found on a sandal tree.

Another variety discovered by Dr. Kishore is Antappippona sahidharani, near the Kerala-Karnataka border.

The other new species were found in Kozhikode, Wayanad, and Kasaragod districts. These are Antappippona malabarica, Antappippona keralansis, Roppalidia indica, Roppalidia anupama, and Roppalidia travancorica.

By Maleeha Raghaviah

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