Monday, May 14, 2012

God's most beautiful creations: Parasitic wasp uses zombie ladybug to guard cocoon

If zombie ants, as described in a previous segment of "God's most beautiful creations," are not horrible enough, consider zombie ladybugs.  

The D. coccinellae is a wasp that not only hatches from its egg inside the belly of a ladybug, but upon emerging forces its eviscerated host to guard its cocoon while it transitions from larva to full-grown wasp.

Normally, the host organism mercifully dies at this point, but the ladybug is not so lucky. Not only does it live, but a little behavior modification forces it to hang around and “guard” its parasite-baby as it grows into adulthood beneath its protective bulk.  Scientists believe that secretions left by the larva when it bursts out might play a role in reprogramming the host.

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