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Scientists have discovered a new species of wasps in the Amazon that turn spiders into zombies.

Spiders obey wasps, and in the end they eat them up.

Photo by Philippe Fernandez-Fournier
Zoologists from the University of British Columbia have discovered a new species of wasps in the Zatypota family in Ecuador. Their life cycle is based on the “zombies” of spiders of the species Anelosimus eximius for posterity. This is reported in a study published in the scientific journal Ecological Entomology.

According to scientists, at first the adult wasp lays eggs on the spiders belly. There, the larva hatches and begins to grow due to the nutrition of hemolymph – an analogue of the blood in insects and pentagoles. Over time, the wasp larva becomes able to manipulate the decision-making of the carrier, “absorbing” its brain.

The wasp forces the “social” spider Anelosimus eximius to do extraordinary things – to leave the colony, build a cocoon, and then wait patiently until it is killed. Under the protection of the cocoon, the larva continues to grow, feeding on a spider. After nine or eleven days, it turns into a full-fledged wasp, which is ready to infect a new victim. To do this, it is enough to find a partner – then the cycle will continue.

Among the family Zatypota previously found wasps that in the same way infect single spiders. For the first time it became clear that wasps can parasitize on spiders living in colonies. According to scientists, wasps “zombie” spiders with the help of special hormones. The researchers also concluded that wasps might not just be parasitic on “social” spiders: they provide a stable colony of carriers and a food source.

As noted by the Motherboard edition, “hard” methods of parasitism was not news for scientists. However, the new insect species is unique even among its relatives. For example, tropical wasps Hymenoepimecis argyraphaga from Costa Rica also paralyze spiders and lay eggs in them, and then manipulate them to weave a new nest.

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