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Saturday, 11 July 2009
Mother Nature's Alien Headfrakk: How Parasitic Wasps Have Babies
Holy ker-rist! Just watched footage of the first stages in the life-cycle of the parasitic wasp on More 4 (waiting for The Great Sperm Race).
A caterpillar is stung by a parasitic wasp and implanted with eggs. Over time the larvae grow inside until they take up a third of its by now obese body. In order to keep the host alive, the larvae only consume the blood and stay away from the organs.
So far, so gruesome. Now for the Alien stage.
The wasp larvae need to get out and, in order to cut through the caterpillar's tough skin, they've grown little saw-like teeth. When it smiles, it does indeed look like what Bette Midler termed, having seen Ridley Scott's classic sci-fi horror, "a penis on a skateboard". The caterpillar — let's call it "John Hurt" writhes in agony but only for a short while, for in an added twist, the larvae secrete paralysing chemicals, although what John's supposed to do with a third of its body mass exploding out of itself is anyone's guess.
In the delightful video above, the babies (Aw, they have their mother's eyes) BURST out. To protect themselves from other parasitic wasps, they start to spin cocoons around themselves.
Now, here's the headfrakk ... John Hurt doesn't die but comes to. You'd think, consdidering what it's just been though, it would mash the little fukkas. But, instead, something in the chemicals secreted by the larvae makes it spin a covering, not to protect itself, but to protect the wasp pupae! Gasp!
Not only that but it then hangs around to guard the silken mass from predators ... UNTIL IT STARVES TO DEATH!!!
I know people like this.
Hmm. Sperm. The human equivalent of fifteen miles in two seconds, huh?