We've heard of the emerald cockroach wasp and other real life zombie nightmares, but according to National Geographic, there’s a new player on the Z team and they’re using live bodies as shields.
It’s terrifying, but it’s worse than you think… maybe.
First, let’s talk about ladybugs. Cute, right? Innocent, right? Harmless? Apparently, not so; these little guys are the Bengal Tigers of the insect world killing and eating thousands of smaller, more helpless bugs at a time. They first detect the invisible chemical distress signals given off by plants under attack, and then they turn on their Predatory style bio-sensors before going full homicidal and shredding everything in sight.
But wait! There’s more.
If you’re expecting the knight in shining armor to ride in and save the poor aphids in distress, you’re about to be terribly disappointed. As a horror movie inspiring defense, the cute little ladybug bathes in its own blood as a defense mechanism to drive predators away. It’s not only intimidating, but it apparently tastes pretty bad too.
That is until this cute little ladybug becomes host to Dinocampus coccinellae, the nasty little newcomer to the zombie wasp party. These little monsters lay their eggs inside the living body of the ladybug, where the rotten little offspring feeds on the fluids that fill the ladybug’s body cavity. Eventually, they get too big for their living host’s body, and they crawl out to cocoon for metamorphosis
And this is the good part.
While cocooned, the little parasite is completely helpless. So it takes the still living body of its former host and hides beneath it for protection. The Ladybug’s mind is still not its own, so it stands motionless above the wasp pupae for about a week. All the while engaging in its own defensive blood bath to ward off would be predators.
Eventually, the wasp has grown into an adult, where it cuts its way through the cocoon (and probably part of its former home) and flies off to infect some other adorable little bug and turn its nightmares into reality.
Can you imagine if this kind of stuff happened to humans?
Check out the full article, “Mindsuckers,” over on NationalGeographic.com. Oh, and good luck sleeping tonight.