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My Mommy Always Said There Were No Monsters--No Real Ones--But There Are

Robert Lamb:

Parasitic Wasp Employs Zombie Ladybug to Guard Cocoon: [A] wasp that not only hatches from its egg inside the belly of a ladybug, but upon emerging forces its eviscerated host to guard its cocoon while it transitions from larva to full-grown horror wasp. Dinocampus coccinellae is its name…. [T]he angiosperms introduced… nectar and pollen. So the wasps of old largely abandoned their flesh-eating ways, except for the carnivorous feasts required by their squirming young…. So the fact that that Dinocampus coccinellae hatches inside the belly of a host bug following some makeshift, catastrophic surgery by its parent is nothing out of the ordinary. But when it celebrates its Chest-Burst Mitzvah, that’s when it gets all weird and noteworthy. Normally, the host organism mercifully dies at this point, but DC’s ladybug is not so lucky. Not only does it live, but a little behavior modification forces it to hang around and “guard” its parasite-baby as it grows into adulthood beneath its protective bulk. Scientists believe that secretions left by the larva when it bursts out might play a role in reprograming the host.

But then the ladybug dies right? Surely once the wasp reaches adulthood, our long-suffering host can at last rest in peace. No such luck. This is the insect world, after all. The researchers found that 25 percent of the manipulated ladybugs recovered normal behavior following their ordeal.

I’m really hoping this makes it into the next PIXAR A Bug’s Life movie...

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