Roach Killer

Warning: It’s Gross. But it’s real.

The venom of the female jewel wasp renders her victims docile so that her offspring can feast. Scientists wonder if this strange brew might teach us a thing or two about human neurobiology.

The unusual thing about this wasp’s venom is that it doesn’t kill. It doesn’t even paralyze the cockroach prey. It just seems to take away the roach’s will to escape. Or to do anything!

When encouraged by the wasp pulling on an antenna, the roach can still walk. And it lets the wasp lead it right to the place where she will lay her egg on it and cover it up, providing a store of fresh meat for her grub.

This is the stuff of nightmares!

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention. If, for any reason, the grub doesn’t hatch in about five days, burrow into the roach, and begin eating its guts and muscles, the roach will recover from its trance and walk away more or less unharmed.

Resource: ASBMB Today, http://www.asbmb.org/asbmbtoday/201404/Features/CockroachHunter/, The cockroach hunter’s spell, by Rajendrani Mukhopadhyay, April 2014

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