Parasitic wasp larvae turn spiders into web-building slaves
Scientists have found that parasitic wasp larvae manipulate spiders to create larger webs for their hosts.
In a study published yesterday in The Journal of Experimental Biology, findings reveal that female Reclinervellus nielseni wasps attack Cyclosa argenteoalba spiders and lay eggs in their abdomens.
When the egg hatches it begins to suck the spider's hemolymph, which is their equivalent to blood. This is where the "mind control" begins, as researchers believe the larvae inject some kind of substance that controls the spider into building a bigger web for the larvae.
The larvae then kill the spider and live in the web for about ten days on their own in a cocoon to develop into full grown wasps. The web gets stronger due to the parasitic activity.
Co-author of the study Keizo Takasuka, a biologist at Kobe University, says, "Although we revealed why the wasp larva manipulates the spider, how it controls the spider is still veiled. These wonderful adaptations are seemingly useless for human welfare, but they may have invisible potential."
Facts about parasitic relationships:
Some parasitic relationships involve the invader living off the body of its host instead of killing it immediately, such as tapeworms in humans.
Some parasitic species which affect humans are bed bugs, leeches, vampire bats, and fleas.
Cover image: Wikimedia Commons