‘Crypt-keeper’ wasp is the stuff of nightmares

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ATLANTA — A new species of wasp discovered in the southeastern United States has a survival strategy that might make your head explode. Because that’s lwhat it does to another kind of wasp.

The “crypt-keeper” wasp preys on gall wasps, which burrow in trees, according to Rice University scientists.

The diabolical wasp finds the gall wasp’s burrow, which is known as a crypt, and deposits an egg inside. When the egg hatches, the larva takes over the mind of the gall wasp and manipulates it into digging out, researchers said.

The exit hole is too small and the gall wasp gets stuck at the emergence point. Then the crypt-keeper wasp eats its way through the other wasp’s body and bursts out through its head.

Researchers said the wasp is a rare example of hypermanipulation, or hyperparasitism, in which one parasite is manipulated by another parasite.

The insidious insect was named Euderus set, or E. set, after Set, “the Egyptian god of evil and chaos who trapped his brother Osiris in a crypt, killed him and then cut him into little pieces,” researchers said.

E. set has been found in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Most Read

Top Stories