Parasitic Wasps: Body Invaders

Not for the faint hearted, this video. This one falls in the creepy category.

And yet it’s fascinating!! The myriad ways for nature to work. Here’s what happens:

1. Parasitic wasp injects eggs into unsuspecting caterpillar.

2. Larvae form inside the caterpillar.

3. Larvae grow inside the caterpillar, making sure not the touch any of the vital organs, and only drawing from the caterpillar blood for its sustenance.

4. When larvae are mature and can come out and away from the caterpillar, they release a chemical that paralyzes the caterpillar. The larvae also develop jagged teeth like formations that they use to cut their way out through the skin of the caterpillar.

5. Once free of the caterpillar, larvae form cocoon around themselves for next stage of their growth.

(It’s not over yet).

6. Chemicals that were injected into caterpillar may have contained a virus – the caterpillar’s brain is affected. Instead of foraging for food, and looking after its own survival, the caterpillar uses all its energies in protecting the wasp larvae from other predators – including other parasitic wasps that can inject eggs into the vulnerable larvae!!

7. Caterpillar uses its own silk to form an extra protective layer on top of the cocoon made by the larvae, and sticks around protecting them aggressively.

8. Caterpillar dies. From hunger. Because it never foraged for food while it protected the larvae. All its brain functions had been scrambled for just this one task, until it was too weak to continue.

Creepy? Yes. Fascinating? Very.

Go watch!!

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5 thoughts on “Parasitic Wasps: Body Invaders

  1. reminded me of some Asimov story… there a virus/something was making humans behave in a bizarre fashion…. i think the story was aptly named “Host”

  2. -Excellent video. I’d like to know how they managed to capture the larvae’s lil teeth!
    -Interesting too… Especially how the larvae evade recognition from the caterpillar’s immune system and vital organs. Believable, except for the brain control part… which has me completely surprised. I’m sure there’s another way to look at it. ‘Wasp virus’ controlling the caterpillar’s brain like that… seems a stretch.
    -Extremely gross.

  3. 1. I agree, gross. But very interesting.

    2. Yes, that virus part stumped me too, but think about it, and there aren’t too many options. The caterpillar is getting exactly zero out of the whole episode. Why would it want to protect / preserve these larvae? There’s something that’s scrambling its normal functions, isn’t there?

    • I think i’ve done one too many research drafts.. I’m looking for a citation on that supposed brain-control virus :D.

      Why would the caterpillar do that?? i’m clueless.

      • He he he… nice! 😛

        Tell me if you find anything. But I think it’s still a conjecture, because the video itself wasn’t very enlightening about it, was it?

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