It’s a Jewel Wasp, typically as small as the width of your two fingers. Its sparkling exterior and mesmerising colour is unsettling – In nature, each feature is evolved for a purpose. Its purpose is to provide food and shelter for its children by turning cockroaches into zombies.
Firstly the mother wasp injects a chemical cocktail of neurotoxins into a victim, which paralyses and alters the behaviour of the roach. Once the toxin starts its effect, the very first thing the roach does is to groom itself meticulously for about half an hour. Scientists don’t have a clear answer for this – perhaps it is to clean the environment for the baby wasp, or it is to serve as a distraction so the mother can advance her plot.
Falling into a tupor state now, the cockroach is defenceless. The mother wasp now leads its newly acquired cradle to a dark location to lay eggs in the living zombie. Throughout this process, the roach is still able to move its limb suggesting the toxin doesn’t target the motor system at all. Furthermore, the metabolism of the roach is slowed down so that its lifespan is long enough for the babies to hatch, grow up and leave the place. The poor cockroach, flooded in the pleasure hormone Dopamine, still enjoys itself in a paradise while being eaten bit by bit every second.
(Beware of the next picture!)
Look at this work of nature: