WHICH INSECT HAS MASTERED BOTH BRAIN SURGERY AND MIND CONTROL?
The answer is, the emerald cockroach wasp, or jewel wasp (Ampulex compressa), which is a colorful solitary wasp who uses cockroaches as hosts for its larvae, because why lay your eggs in a hole in the ground when you can lay them right on top of their food source?
The female wasp stings the cockroach, often six times bigger than herself. The first dose of venom paralyzes the front legs. The second dose of venom, however, is when it gets interesting. While the roach is paralyzed and defenseless, the wasp injects her venom into the brain.
When all this is done, she bites off the roach’s antennae, drinks its hemolymph (insect blood, simply put), and leads the still alive, zombified cockroach to her burrow.
At the burrow, she lays an egg on top of the cockroach and buries them both. When the egg hatches, the larva eats its way into the cockroach’s abdomen, living off the sugar-rich hemolymph. After that, the larva will kill the cockroach (yes, it was alive during this whole process) and proceed to pupate inside the body.
Isn’t nature beautiful?
Classification: Animalia - Arthropoda - Insecta - Hymenoptera - Apocrita - Apoidae - Ampulicidae - Ampulex
Image credit: Enio Branco, Gudrun Herzner, Ram Gal.