Research

Wasps turn spiders into zombies with steroid hormone

Zombies, which are known to all thanks to the books andhorror movies are real. At least they exist in the world of insects - surely many have heard of the tropical fungus Cordyceps, which controls the minds of ants to spread their own spores. It is also known that in the world there are parasitic wasps, which “zombie” spiders and use their bodies in order to completely transform from larvae into adult individuals. Scientists finally managed to figure out how the larvae manage to take control over the minds of their victims.

The process of turning spiders into zombies looks likea scene from a real horror movie - the first thing a parasitic wasp is laying eggs on the back of spiders. From these eggs, the larvae subsequently hatch, forcing the arthropod victims to create a special type of web, which the parasites then use as a reliable cocoon. After the work, the larvae eat up the prey and pupate to become adults.

Cheating spiders with hormone

So how do the maggots manage to forceSpiders to create cocoons for them? A new study has uncovered this secret - it turns out that the larvae inject spider Ecdysone into spider bodies. He deceives the body of the victims and starts the process of molting, during which the spiders become vulnerable and try to protect themselves with a shell of a special type of web. However, in the end, this protection becomes the "home" for future wasps, and the spiders themselves - their food.

Study author William Eberhard shared thatthey will continue to study the process of turning spiders into zombies. They noticed that the larvae somehow forced the spiders to create a more durable shell of cobwebs. Perhaps for this parasites inject a much larger dose of ecdysone than is produced in spider organisms. There is also a chance that the larvae change the structure of the web by modifying the hormone.

On the subject of zombies, we also recommend reading our material on how Duke University researchers managed to resurrect a pig's brain four hours after its death.

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