The "Crypt-Keeper Wasp"
If anyone fears mind-control or zombies, avoid the “crypt-keeper wasp” at all costs. These terrifying parasitic insects control their victims, “crypt gall wasps”, by first assigning them a beneficial task, then devouring them. Once crypt gall wasps are done maturing and are ready to leave their nests in trunks, they chew their way through the tough bark of a tree. In some cases, the crypt-keeper wasp controls its host during this process. Once the crypt gall wasp chews a hole, they get their head stuck before they break through. The crypt-keeper wasp then eats its own way through the host and out of the tree.
This horrific behavior earned this parasitic wasp the name, Euderus set. Set being the ancient Egyptian god of evil and chaos. The reasoning behind the gruesome behavior of the crypt-keeper wasp was discovered by Kelly Weinersmith, a parasitologist at Rice University in Houston. According to Weinersmith, a wasp was three times more likely to get stuck inside a tree and die when trying to create its own hole than to use a hole previously created by its host. Also, the nutritious benefits of consuming another wasp provided even higher rates of survival for this method of departure. Smart? Yes. Evolutionary beneficial? Yes. Disturbing? OH YES.
Image by: Ryan Ridenbaugh and Miles Zhang
Posted by Caitlin Lohr (2)