Wasps turn spiders into zombies with the help of steroid hormone

Zombies, which are known to all thanks to books and horror movies, is very real. At least, they exist in the insect world — I’m sure many have heard about the tropical fungus Cordyceps that controls the minds of ants to spread its own spores. It is also known that there are parasitic wasps, which “brainwashed” spiders and use their bodies to security to turn from larvae into adults. Scientists finally managed to figure out how the larvae manage to seize control over the minds of their victims.

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The process of turning spiders into zombies looks like a scene from a true horror movie — the first thing parasitic wasp lays eggs on the back of spiders. Of these eggs subsequently hatch into larvae, arthropods forcing victims to create a special type of web, which the parasites then use as a reliable cocoon. After this work, the larvae eat the victims and pupate to become adults.

Cheating the spiders with the help of the hormone

So how do the larvae can persuade the spiders to provide them with cocoons? A new study revealed this secret — it turns out that the larvae injected into the bodies of spiders hormone called ecdysone. He deceives the body of the victims and starts the shedding process, during which the spiders are vulnerable and trying to protect himself with a shell of a special type of web. However, in the end, this protection becomes “home” for future OS, and the spiders in their food.

The study’s author William Eberhard said that they will continue to explore the process of turning spiders into zombies. They noticed that the larvae somehow make spiders to create a more solid shell from the web. Perhaps this parasites inject a much larger dose of ecdysone than is produced in organisms spiders. There is also the possibility that larvae alter the structure of the web by using modifications of the hormone.

Like zombies we also recommend you to read our material on how researchers from Duke University managed to resurrect the pig brain four hours after her death.

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