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Beautiful wasp zombifies cockroach


In the African savannah lives a very interesting creature. This is Ampulex compressa, the Jeweled Cockroach wasp. She is on the hunt for something. And this is it. A cockroach. She approaches it carefully as the roach is far bigger than she is. Once she is close enough she strikes! Stinging it twice. The first sting disables the roach’s front legs. The second she delivers directly into the insect’s brain. But this does not kill the roach. Nor is it even paralysed. The wasps venom simply disables the roach’s escape reflex. Were you to turn on the light, it would not scatter. While the venom begins to take effect, the roach grooms itself compulsively. The wasp waits nearby. Having waited long enough, the wasp returns to her prey. Vibrating her wing muscles like this allows her to sever the roach’s antennae. Scientists think that, by tasting the roach’s blood, she can gauge how effective her sting has been. To little venom and the roach will recover before she is done with it. Too much and it may die too soon. Satisfied, the wasp leads the stupified insect to her burrow. She probes the roach’s body, looking for just the right place. Once she has found it, she lays on it a single egg. The roach is not sustenance for her, but rather for her young. Now she must protect her investment. She carefully seals the burrow with twigs and rocks. A process that may take thirty minutes or more. Inside the burrow the roach remains. Alive and well but unable to escape. The egg will soon hatch. As a grub, the young insect will bore its way into the cockroach’s body and consume its internal organs in the order most likely to keep it alive for as long as possible. One month later. A new wasp emerges. Ready to begin the process again.

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