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Zombieism: A Symbol of the West By Peter Ewer

     No doubt someone else at this site has used the zombie metaphor, perhaps in the same existential despair as me, to describe the plight of our kind. But, for the money, and there is not much of that, here it is again:

“Around the world, parasitoid wasps use spiders as the host for their babies. Researchers recently found that the wasps take advantage of the spiders’ hormone to force their victims into doing their bidding. A wasp starts the gruesome series of events by laying an egg on the body of a spider. Its larva feeds on their host to gather nutrients for the pupa stage. Eventually, the wasp larva forces the spider to spin a specific web that will support its pupal cocoon. Once the spiderweb is finished, the larva kills the spider, wraps its former host and itself in a cocoon, and starts the maturation process into an adult wasp. Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Uberlandia (UFU) investigated how parasitoid wasps hijack the bodies of the spiders. They learned that the wasp larvae take advantage of ecdysone, a hormone that controls the molting behavior of spiders. The parasites change the way spiders respond to increasing ecdysone levels so that their hosts produce webs for their pupal cocoons. (Related: Bugs for green thumbs: 7 Beneficial bugs that you need in your garden.) Parasitoid wasp larvae inject psychotropic substances into spiders to turn them into “zombies” STRI researcher William Eberhard teamed up with his UFU counterpart Marcelo Gonzaga. Together, they went over the existing papers on parasitoid wasp species around the world that target spider species. They also incorporated the findings of a separate Brazilian molecular study. Last but not least, they looked at the behavior of spiders in Costa Rica.”

     As for the human equivalents, well you can guess who does what to whom, but it is not WASPs. Long ago, they lost their sting!



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Sunday, 31 May 2020
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