Friday, August 7, 2015

Walking Dead: How Wasp Overlords Control Spider Zombies

Like a mindless zombie controlled by a menacing overlord, the spider scampers back and forth, reinforcing its silky web. Not long from now, the subservient arachnid will be dead, its web transformed into a shelter for the spawn of the creature that once controlled it, according to a new study.

No, this isn't science fiction; it's the somewhat terrifying (but very real) tale of the orb-weaving spider Cyclosa argenteoalba and the parasitic wasp Reclinervellus nielseni, two species that carry out a strange relationship in Hyogo prefecture, Japan.

Together, the wasp and the spider provide a perfect example of host manipulation — an ecological process in which one species (the parasite) and its young (the parasitoids) manipulate the behaviors of another species (the host) to their advantage. [Zombie Animals: 5 Real-Life Cases of Body-Snatching

Just how a parasite turns its host into a zombielike slave varies from species to species, and sometimes, researchers aren't sure what the mechanism is that makes a host do its parasite's bidding. That's the case for the orb-weaving spider and parasitic wasp of Japan. Researchers in that country want to find out how R. nielseni controls C. argenteoalba. Does it use a neurotoxin, or perhaps some kind of hormone?

But to solve that mystery, scientists first need to answer another question: What, exactly, does the wasp make the spider do?

Find out here


I see parasite infected mindless zombies that are manipulated daily. How about you?

1 comment:

BWBandy said...

Interesting blog.