This Parasitic Wasp Creates Zombie Cockroaches!?

There is a parasitic wasp known as the emerald cockroach wasp, or more commonly, the jewel wasp. These wasps truly are something quite terrifying. They target cockroaches, which they use to facilitate their own reproduction.   By changing the roach’s behavior, this parasitic wasp creates zombie cockroaches!  Ultimately, the wasp is able to inject its egg into the stomach of the poor roach, where the subsequent larvae feeds on it from the inside out until it, in turn, is a fully grown wasp. Something we can’t forget:  the roach is alive during this!  Nothing but the freshest source of food will do for these wasps.

Parasitic wasp creates zombie cockroaches!
The emerald cockroach wasp; This parasitic wasp creates zombie cockroaches!

A Closer Look: How this Parasitic Wasp Creates Zombie Roaches

The jewel wasp is able to “zombify” its prey by giving it two stings.

This first sting allows the jewel wasp to guide the cockroach into its liar.  It is a sting to the roach’s thorax which results in it losing the ability to move its front legs. The cockroach is effectively rendered defenseless.  As if to intentionally add insult to injury, the jewel wasp then drags the roach by its antenna, much like a dog on a leash to its lair.

The second sting is to the head, directly into the brain.  This final sting results in the roach gaining long-term hypokinesia.  In other words, the cockroach loses its ability to move entirely; the second sting inhibits it from using its own muscles!

At this point, the jewel wasp plants its egg into the abdomen of the still living cockroach.  A week later newly hatched larvae begins feeding on the cockroach’s internal organs!  It is worth mentioning that the larvae will eat the inner organs in a specific order, keeping the roach alive for as long as possible. By the time a month goes by, a mature emerald cockroach wasp emerges from its host, and the cycle starts anew.

Despite the beauty we see in Mother Nature, sometimes we forget how brutal the wild world and its inhabitants can be. Let’s be thankful there isn’t a creature like the wasp that targets us humans, because it sure would not be fun to be on the receiving end of what happens in this video!

Intriguing, yet horrifying. Right?

Joe S

Joe S

Did you know that I’m an undergraduate student studying Biology?

While not in class I like to spend my free time playing my guitar, reading a good book, or simply enjoying the company of friends and family.

Growing up I’ve always been a part of Scouting, from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, resulting in a love for the outdoors and camping.

I’ve always had a wide variety of interests; science, history, you name it.Writing for the Did You Know It blog allows me to cover all sorts of interesting topics and bring them to you guys!
Joe S

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