Wasp Makes Cockroach Care For Her Young
Wasp is a fascinating insect. Some wasps are social while remaining tend to maintain a solitary lifestyle. However, many solitary wasps are parasitoidal (they raise their young by laying eggs on or in other insects). These wasps' larvae will eventually kill their host which is not an act an actual parasite would do (it tend to keep the host alive).
An example of a parasitoidal wasp includes Iseropus wasps which thrust their eggs into the larvae of moths. Today our topic of discussion is one such parasitoidal wasp called the emerald jewel wasp also known as the cockroach wasp.
The Emerald Jewel Wasp
Thanks to evolution, we have seen several unique animals with distinctive survival and reproductive techniques. The emerald jewel wasp is one of such examples. This wasp is a small bluish-green insect with a mixture of neurotoxins in her stinger which controls the brain activity of a cockroach.
Dramatically speaking her sting zombifies a cockroach.
The Wasp Attacks!
The wasp is many times smaller than a cockroach, so to attack her prey she uses stealth as her weapon. The wasp slowly sneaks up on the roach, and when the time is right she attacks. At first, she faces some resistance because the cockroach tries to fight back. Once the wasp injects her sting, the cockroach's resistance die.
The Cockroach is Zombified.
The process of zombification begins by stinging the cockroach twice.
Effect of the first sting.
The first sting temporarily paralyzes the forelimbs of the cockroach. This situation is beneficial because the second sting must be very accurately injected into the roaches ganglia (bundles of nerves which act as the cockroach's brain).
Effects of the second sting.
The venom in the second sting impairs the escape reflex of the cockroach. Now the cockroach will be unable to escape while the wasp goes out to search for a nice place to nest.
Another effect of the sting is that the cockroach starts to lick its antenna (this process is also called grooming).
The wasp goes out in search for a nest.
While the wasp goes out in search for a nice place to nest, the cockroach is busy grooming itself. A wasp often prefers an underground cave or a burrow as her lair. Once she finds a suitable nest, the wasp returns and drags the roach by its antenna into her nest.
The wasp leaves the nest.
When in her nest, the wasp lays an egg on the inside of the cockroach's abdomen. She is now ready to leave the nest. However, before leaving she covers the entrance to nest with some pebbles. Blocking the entrance will keep a predator away from the cockroach, and ensures the cockroach does not escape. For another three days, the cockroach stays in the dark nest. He is unable to escape, and the only thing he can do now is to pray forgiveness for his past sins.
The nightmare begins.
The egg hatches after another three days. The larva feeds on inside of the roach, as a starter, it will chew its way through the roach's abdomen to reach its internal organ. On its way, the larva will slurp up any hemolymph(a fluid which is like blood in most invertebrates) it encounters. For the main course, the larva devours the least important organ for cockroach first while leaving the nervous system for the end. Now the cockroach will stay alive until the larva pupates.
Being eaten alive must be a horrible experience even for a cockroach. After the 8-day feast, the larva is ready to pupate. Before larva begins to pupate it releases some antimicrobial fluid because a corpse will surely attract bacteria.
Larva forms a cocoon inside the dead roach's body, and after a month a new wasp will emerge to continue this horrific cycle.
- The first sting contains a large quantity of GABA(gamma amino butyric acid) which temporarily paralyzes the cockroach’s front legs. However, the second sting contains a mixture of neurotoxins.
- The Emerald wasps are mostly found in the tropical regions of South Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Island.
- A female wasp will mate only once, but that will be enough to fertilize dozens of eggs.