This is one wasp you don't want to mess with. Image Credit: Philippe Fernandez-Fournier / ubc.ca
Scientists have discovered a horrifying new species of wasp in the depths of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
, the species was identified by researchers from the University of British Columbia.
What makes this insect particularly disturbing is its tendency to target and infect spiders with a parasite that turns them in to 'zombies' and dooms them to do the wasp's bidding.
"Wasps manipulating the behavior of spiders has been observed before, but not at a level as complex as this," said study lead author Philippe Fernandez-Fournier.
"Not only is this wasp targeting a social species of spider but it's making it leave its colony, which it rarely does."
The species of spider that the wasp targets - Anelosimus eximius
- is unusual in itself because it is one of only 25 known types of 'social' spider in the world. Unlike most spiders which tend to be solitary, this particular species is known to live in colonies from which it rarely strays.
This makes its zombification and subsequent desertion all the more remarkable.
"This behavior modification is so hardcore," said co-author Samantha Straus. "The wasp completely hijacks the spider's behavior and brain and makes it do something it would never do, like leave its nest and spinning a completely different structure. That's very dangerous for these tiny spiders."
Source: Science Daily | Comments (4)
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