A Wasp With a Pet Cockroach

This tiny wasp has a beautiful blue green body with legs that are red and blue. An adult female is only ¾’” long and lives primarily in Africa and South Asia.

Although this wasp is very small and colorful in appearance, it has a dark side to its behavior. The female of this species has the stinger, and she uses it to accomplish her very bizarre and predatory actions. Little is known of her mating habits; however once she is fertile this is when the Emerald Cockroach Wasp begins its hunt for a victim, a cockroach that will soon become the host for her egg.

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp stings the cockroach twice. The first sting is in the thorax, which temporarily paralyzes the cockroach’s legs to keep it from escaping. This gives the wasp time to initiate the second sting through the cockroach’s head and directly into its brain. After these 2 – stings, the wasp is tired. So to renew its energy it eats off portions of the cockroaches antennae and drinks some of its blood in order to complete this brain control process.

The second sting delivers venom in order to limit the ability to act normally once the paralysis wears off. As a matter of fact, the cockroach can move and walk, but it is completely under the control of the venom in its brain. While in this state, the Emerald Cockroach Wasp leads the cockroach like a pet dog, by its antennae, to its burrow and lays an egg on the cockroach. The venom works on areas of the brain that causes the cockroach to have no escape instinct, yet it can walk. This is very important, because it allows the wasp to use a much bigger victim, to its reproductive advantage. The wasp is so small that it could never carry the cockroach back to the burrow. Thus the ability to walk and be led by the wasp allows for the movement to a place where the wasp has even bigger plans. The poor cockroach may be able to move around slowly but it does not know what terrible fate is ahead. While confused and trapped in the burrow by the wasp, the egg hatches in about 4 days. The hatched larva then chews into the abdomen of the cockroach to live like a parasite inside the roach body. Over an 8 to 9 day timeframe, the larva eats the internal organs of the cockroach, in specific order in order to keep the cockroach alive. This gives it time to form a cocoon inside it, to further develop and grow.

Important to this portion of the development process, is protection from disease and bacteria. Especially considering that the wasp is living inside a potentially decaying cockroach body. A built in antimicrobial secreting mechanism allows the larva to remain safe.  The larva secretes enough of these antibiotics to keep all bacteria and viruses from harming it during this final incubation stage. After about six weeks a fully grown Emerald Cockroach Wasp exits the roach body and begins its adult life.

Adults live for several months, mate again and the life cycle continues. With the next generation of Emerald Cockroach Wasp looking for another poor unsuspecting cockroach to use to their advantage.

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