A brain surgeon in the animal kingdom? Yes. But this doctor isn’t bound by the threats of malpractice lawsuits or the constraints of human rights. This brain surgeon performs on unsuspecting patients against their will, and for personal gain. This brain surgeon is a parasitic wasp known as the Jewel wasp.
Also known as the Emerald cockroach wasp, it is mostly found in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. You don’t have to worry about spotting one of these in New York! When on the hunt, the wasp attacks a host (usually a cockroach) and launches a sting that paralyzes the front legs. Once the host is subdued, the wasp delivers a modified venom cocktail into its brain. This venom blocks a neurotransmitter which disables the hosts’ ability to move, while allowing the wasp to have full control over the function of the body. The wasp can then lead the stupefied host back to her bunker where she will lay a single egg on the cockroach.
The cockroach is alive and well while all of this is going on, but doesn’t exactly have any will of its own left. After the wasp larvae hatches, it will feed on the surface of the host before burrowing into the body. Once inside, the larvae will feed on the least important internal organs first to ensure that the host is kept alive to continue supplying fresh food. The wasp larvae will then start to transform into the pupae stage turning it into a wasp. The host dies and like an alien from the movies, a full adult Jewel wasp emerges from the cockroach carcass. Titillating stuff, right?
See the Jewel wasp in action: