Once again, the folks at ScienceDaily.com have come up with yet another eyeball-grabbing headline.
This article is a follow-up to a November 26, 2009, piece entitled Ladybugs Taken Hostage by Wasps.
But here’s the weird part. The lady bug lives and the larva takes residence between some of the ladybug’s legs, forming a cocoon. The ladybug, in a semi-drugged ‘zombie’ state, is manipulated into ‘protecting’ the cocoon until it is old enough to mature into a wasp. Once the wasp leaves, the ladybug stands a 25% chance of surviving and recovering its normal pre-zombie behaviour.
In other words, the behavioral manipulation only begins once the parasite has left the body.
Apparently, unlike human females, this species of wasp has not yet mastered the skill of reproducing and manipulating both at the same time.
Hang in there, wasps. It took our females a long time to hone that skill to an art. I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it soon!