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The terrible parasitic wasp in the Amazon transforms the spiders into drones like zombies



Scientists exploring the Ecuadorian Amazon have discovered a new species of parasitic wasp that turns its victims into zombies.

In what researchers say is a particularly "harsh" form of abduction, these wasps first make normally social spiders turn their backs on their own colonies, before turning a cocoon to the larvae that will eventually eat it.

The appalling attack stands out from most other known cases of wasp parasitism, being unusual in that it does not target a solitary spider species, as is often the case.

In what researchers say is a particularly

In what researchers say is a particularly "harsh" form of kidnapping, these wasps first make normally social spiders turn their backs on their own colonies, before spinning a cocoon for the larvae that will eventually eat it.

"The wasps that manipulate the behavior of spiders have been observed before, but not at such a complex level," said Philippe Fernández-Fournier, the study's lead author and a former master's student in the zoology department at the UBC.

"Not only is this wasp targeting a social species of spider, but it is making it leave its colony, which rarely does."

The parasitic wasp comes from the genus Zatypota and targets a spider called Anelosimus eximius, a unique social spider known for living in large colonies and cooperating with others to capture prey and raise their young.

During the investigation, the team noticed that some were infected with a parasitic larva, and could be seen moving away from their colonies to weave closed fabrics.

"It was very strange because they usually do not do that, so I started taking notes," said the researcher.

After taking some of the so-called "cocoon fabrics" to the laboratory to investigate, the researcher discovered that there were wasps inside.

"These wasps have an elegant and elegant appearance," said Samantha Straus, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in the zoology department at OBC.

"But then they do the most brutal thing."

The parasitic wasp comes from the genus Zatypota and is addressed to a spider called Anelosimus eximius.

The appalling attack stands out from most other known cases of wasp parasitism, being unusual in that it does not target a solitary spider species, as is often the case.

The appalling attack stands out from most other known cases of wasp parasitism, being unusual in that it does not target a solitary spider species, as is often the case.

According to the researchers, the adult female wasp first places an egg in the abdomen of a spider.

Finally, the larva hatches and adheres to the spider's body, feeding on it as it grows.

In a zombified state, the spider leaves its colony and creates a cocoon for the larva. Then, expect to be killed and consumed.

The larva emerges nine to eleven days later.

WHAT IS A PARASITOID?

Parasitoids are insects with parasitic larvae that eat their host, usually another insect, from the inside out.

They often employ a sharp tool known as an ovipositor to deposit eggs under the skin or exoskeleton of unsuspecting guests.

After a short period of gestation, the larvae hatch and begin to consume their host, usually reaching adulthood when the host has died.

The parasitoid species are mostly types of bees, wasps and ants, although some species of flies also use the frightening technique.

The biology of parasitoids has inspired several science fiction writers and authors to create alien parasitoids that kill human hosts, including the infamous Xenomorph in Ridley Scott's Alien movie, in 1979.

The parasitoids are insects with parasitic larvae that eat their host, usually another insertion, from the inside out. The photo shows a parasitic wasp that injects larvae into the spiders and then sews the host in its nest to immobilize it.

The parasitoids are insects with parasitic larvae that eat their host, usually another insertion, from the inside out. The photo shows a parasitic wasp that injects larvae into the spiders and then sews the host in its nest to immobilize it.

"This behavior modification is so serious," said Straus.

"The wasp completely hijacks the behavior and brain of the spider and causes it to do something it would never do, such as leaving its nest and spinning a completely different structure, which is very dangerous for these little spiders."

Researchers have not yet discovered how wasps cause spiders to leave their colonies, although they suspect that the use of hormones, which could trick them into thinking they are at a different stage in life, may be the culprit.

"We believe that wasps target these social spiders because it provides a large and stable host colony and a source of food," said Straus.

"We also found that the larger the spider colony, the more likely it is that these wasps will target it."


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