by Sam Bennett
What If I told you that we share our world with the walking dead and mind controlling parasites? Would you believe me? Probably not, but it’s mostly true all the same. This parasitoid is known as The Jewel Wasp or the Emerald Cockroach Wasp. This wasp is the fuel for roach nightmares from Hawaii to the Pacific Islands to Africa and south Asia, and for good reason.
You can tell why they’re compared to jewels. The females reach a peak size of roughly 22mm in length with the males being slightly smaller and lacking a stinger. All very interesting, but what’s this about cockroaches? Cockroaches come into the equation when the female wasp decides that it’s time to lay her egg. When that time comes the female wasp goes hunting for a nursery. When she find one she delivers a preliminary sting to temporarily immobilise the roach before delivering a second, specialised sting. This second sting introduces a neurotoxin directly into the part of the cockroaches’ brain that controls its escape reflex. This done, the roach feels no need to run even after the paralysing agent has worn off and is led like a dog towards the wasp’s lair.
Upon it’s arrival the wasp injects it’s offspring into the abdomen of the roach before sealing the entrance with rocks. This is done to protect the roach from predators not to prevent it from escaping. At this point, the poor cockroaches brain is so altered escape is not even considered. It just lies there docile as the larva eat its organs one by one. One week later the newly adult wasp leave the lair and their latest meal.
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