Threatened new wasps found in the Amazon turn spiders into zombies to accommodate the larvae that eat them alive from the inside



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The horrible new parasitic wasp species that turned its victims into suicide zombies have been found on Amazon.

The nightmare bug turns spiders into helpless drones who leave their own colonies to bid for wasps – before the larvae eat them alive.

    Nightmare Zatypota wasp converts spiders into helpless zombies

Philippe Fernandez-Fournier

Nightmare Zatypota wasp converts spiders into helpless zombies

The terrible discovery – made in Ecuador – was made by scientists from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

They say wasp behavior is a "hardcore" form of piracy – that is when one animal manipulates another animal.

After leaving their homes, spiders are made to rotate cocoons specifically for wasp larvae which then hatch and eat spiders.

"Wasps that manipulate spider behavior have been observed before, but not at this complex level," said Philippe Fernandez-Fournier of UBC's zoology department.

    Helpless spiders are forced to leave their own forest colonies

Alamy

Helpless spiders are forced to leave their own forest colonies
    The first female mouse lay eggs in the spider's stomach

Philippe Fernandez-Fournier

The first female mouse lay eggs in the spider's stomach

"It's not only this wasp that targets social spider species but that makes it leave its colonies, which are rare."

Parasitic wasps target spiders called Anelosimus eximius who are known to live in large colonies and work with others to catch prey and raise their children.

The researchers saw several spiders infected with parasite larvae and were seen wandering away from their colonies to rotate closed nets.

"It's very strange because they don't usually do that, so I started taking notes," Fernandez-Fournier said.

    The spider then rotates the cocoon for more wasp larvae

Philippe Fernandez-Fournier

The spider then rotates the cocoon for more wasp larvae
    Philippe Fernandez-Fournier near one of the web parasitic nests on Amazon

Philippe Fernandez-Fournier

Philippe Fernandez-Fournier near one of the web parasitic nests on Amazon

That's when scientists were surprised to see larvae belonging to an unknown species of Zatypota wasp.

"This wasp is very elegant and elegant," said Samantha Straus, study co-author and PhD student in the OBC zoology department. "But then they did the most brutal thing."

A female wasp lays its eggs on a spider's stomach which then hatches and begins to eat spiders.

Then the spider leaves the colony and creates a cocoon for the larvae – before waiting to devour the young wasp.

"This modification of behavior is very hardcore," Straus said.

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"The wasp really hijacked the spider's behavior and brain and made it do something it would never do, like leaving its nest and spinning a completely different structure.

"It's very dangerous for this little spider."

It is not known how wasps do this, but scientists believe it might be caused by injections of hormones that make spiders think it is at a different stage of life or cause it to spread from the colony.

"We think wasps target these social spiders because they provide large and stable colonies and food sources," Straus said.

"We also found that the bigger the spider colony, the more likely the wasps will target it."

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