WHICH INSECT HAS MASTERED BOTH BRAIN SURGERY AND MIND CONTROL?
The answer is, the emerald cockroach wasp, or jewel wasp (Ampulex compressa), which is a colorful solitary wasp who uses cockroaches as hosts for its larvae, because why lay your eggs in a hole in the ground when you can lay them right on top of their food source?
The female wasp stings the cockroach, often six times bigger than herself. The first dose of venom paralyzes the front legs. The second dose of venom, however, is when it gets interesting. While the roach is paralyzed and defenseless, the wasp injects her venom into the brain.
When all this is done, she bites off the roach’s antennae, drinks its hemolymph (insect blood, simply put), and leads the still alive, zombified cockroach to her burrow.
At the burrow, she lays an egg on top of the cockroach and buries them both. When the egg hatches, the larva eats its way into the cockroach’s abdomen, living off the sugar-rich hemolymph. After that, the larva will kill the cockroach (yes, it was alive during this whole process) and proceed to pupate inside the body.
Isn’t nature beautiful?
Classification: Animalia - Arthropoda - Insecta - Hymenoptera - Apocrita - Apoidae - Ampulicidae - Ampulex
The Golden silk orb weaver (Nephila clavipes) is one of the few spider species that has been observed to catch birds and once, even a snake. Note that this is highly unusual and this spider poses no threat to humans, and is actually beneficial for gardens as it keeps fruit flies away.
The Nephila genus is the oldest surviving genus of spiders, having been around for at least 165 million years. The oldest species was the, now extinct, N. jurassica with a leg-span of half a foot (1.5 dm).
Their silk is also used in neuronal regeneration. A thread of silk from the N. clavipes can lead a severed neuron through the body to the site from which it was severed. It is not recognized by the immune system and is therefore not rejected.
Classification: Animalia - Arthropoda - Arachnida - Araneae - Nephila
THE INSECT THAT CAME BACK TO LIFE
By 1920, the Lord Howe Island stick insect (Dryococelus australis) was thought to be extinct as a result of rats being introduced to the island. Over 80 years later, in 2001, however, two Australians scientists discovered a group of 24 of these large stick insects.
Since the discovery, the insects have been successfully bred in captivity at Melbourne Zoo. As of 2012, the population of the Dryococelus australis has reached over 9,000 individuals, with thousands of eggs waiting to hatch. The ultimate goal is to place the insects back on their home island, after the planned eradication of rats.
These stick insects live for about 2 years and measure up to 15 cm (6 inches). The nymphs are green and diurnal, and turn black and nocturnal as they become adults. Today, they are still considered critically endangered.
Wouldn’t eradicating the rats after some 100 years in the island ecosystem cause it’s own problems?
Considering how many species (insect and others) were wiped out after the introduction of rats on various islands, it’s safe to say that rats do more harm than good, ecologically speaking. Also, 100 years isn’t a terribly long time; the rats haven’t really had the time to become “real” parts of the island ecosystems.