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|Family:||Xiphydriidae, Orussidae, Anaxyelidae or Siricidae|
The term wood wasp is a colloquial name applied to various unrelated families of Symphyta, whose only shared feature is that the larvae are found in wood. The name is thus applied to "wood wasps" (family Xiphydriidae), "parasitic wood wasps" (family Orussidae), "cedar wood wasps" (Family Anaxyelidae), or, at times, to "horntails" (family Siricidae). The female in the latter two of these groups has a long ovipositor at the back of her body which gives her a dangerous look, but they cannot use them to sting.
The female wood wasps or the wood-boring wasps lay its eggs inside the pine trees. Its methods of doing so have inspired scientists to come up with new and safer surgical probes. These surgical probes are said to be more-efficient.
The wood wasp drills into a pine tree by an ovipositor. This is a tube which is like a needle. It contains two interlocking valves. Each valve is covered with teeth that are backward- facing. While the teeth of one valve catch onto the wood to provide resistance, the other valve moves forward taking a slight step. Then that valve catches the wood to provide resistance while the first valve moves forward.
Thus by quick oscillation, the valves alternate in providing resistance and moving forward. This process leads in the ovipositor drilling almost an inch into the sapwood. The force used for this process is minimal. Buckling or breaking does not take place during the process.
Researchers and scientists have been inspired by the ovipositor of the female wood wasp. They have created a prototype neurosurgical probe that works on the same principle. Its needle is silicon. It has two valves that oscillate. Each of these valves has teeth that are micro-sized. This enables it to penetrate deep into the brain causing little damage.
There is to be an added feature to this instrument. According to the New Scientist magazine, “Unlike existing rigid surgical probes, the device will be flexible enough to move along the safest possible route, bypassing high-risk area of the brain during surgery, for example”. A probe like this would considerably reduce the number of incisions necessary to access areas that are difficult to reach.