Crypt Keeper-Wasp is a Parasite

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Wissenschaftler haben eine großartige neue Wespen-Art beschrieben und sie dann auch noch Crypt Keeper Wasp getauft, deren parasitärer Lebenszyklus sich wie 'ne Story aus den legendären Horror-Comics Tales from the Crypt anhört: Die Viecher legen Eier in den Baum-Höhlen der Gallwespe (selbst ein Parasit), wo deren Larven aufwachsen und manipulieren nach dem Schlüpfen deren Wachstum. Die Wespe wird dadurch zu groß und bleibt beim Versuch, aus ihrem Bau zu entkommen, im nun zu schmalen Loch stecken. Dann frisst sich die Wespe durch die Eingeweide des Tieres und platzt aus dem Kopf. Geil! (And it's a pretty little bastard too!)

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wasp2The wasp known as Euderus set, or E. set, deposits an egg in the developing gall wasp's woody haven. The young E. set eventually chews its way to freedom - through its host's head. Rice researchers nicknamed it the "crypt-keeper" wasp and said it's a rare example of hypermanipulation, in which a parasite is manipulated by another parasite.

E. set and its gory emergence are described in two papers led by Rice evolutionary biologists Kelly Weinersmith and Scott Egan. The first paper, in the open-access journal ZooKeys this month, describes the new wasp species in detail. The second, released today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, details the species' ghoulish strategy. [Papers: Tales from the crypt: a parasitoid manipulates the behaviour of its parasite host (PRSB), New species of parasitic wasp named after ancient god of evil Set shows wicked behavior (ZooKeys)]

The discoverers named their wasp for 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.

The tiny, iridescent parasite hijacks its host, Bassettia pallida, which would normally mature inside the crypt (aka the gall) and tunnel its way out to freedom in the spring. A female E. set deposits an egg into the crypt, where it manipulates the growing gall wasp, typically making its emergence hole too small. When the wasp tries to escape, its head lodges in the hole. E. set can then consume the gall wasp's internal organs and emerge, "Alien"-like, from its head case.