As if spiders weren’t creepy enough… now we have discovered zombie spiders.
It seems that each new month can’t pass without another discovery of a mind-bending parasite, taking over the brain of its victim. This time, it’s a newly discovered species of Zatypota wasp, found deep in the Ecuadorian jungle. The wasp lays its eggs on the abdomen of the colony-dwelling spider Anelosimus eximius, after which the larva hatches and attaches itself to the hapless arachnid host. After this, it hijacks the spiders brain, forcing it to abandon its colony and spin a web of densely spun silk. This acts as a ‘cocoon’, protecting the larva as it gobbles up the spider, before hatching out around tend days later as a fully formed wasp.
“The wasp completely hijacks the spider’s behaviour and brain and makes it do something it would never do, like leave its nest and spinning a completely different structure,” says Samantha Straus, co-author of the research said in a statement. The findings were published in Ecological Entomology.