Science-- there's something for everyone

Monday, October 31, 2011

Wasp vs. ant

If there’s anything creepier than insects that lay their eggs inside other insects so their larvae can feast on the living flesh of their prey, I’m not sure what it is.  For your Halloween viewing pleasure, José-María Gómez Durán and Cornelis van Achterberg of NCB Naturalis Leiden have managed to film and describe four species of parasitoid wasps in the act of depositing their eggs in ants.  Two of the wasp species are new to science.

As you can see in the video below, the wasps use the strategy of attacking from above and behind the ants.  This technique is highly affective, resulting in an 80% success rate in depositing eggs.  Don’t be fooled by the slow motion in the video.  The entire sequence from landing on an ant to taking off again lasts less than three quarters of a second.

If that wasn’t enough for you, check out videos two, three and four.

By the way, parasitoids differ from other types of parasites in that they always kill their victims.  In other words, the hapless ants in the video are doomed to an extremely unpleasant death.