Jun
23
2008

If I could lay zombie eggs in a caterpillar, I would. As it is, I can only watch.

It's probably not the worst day in this caterpillar's life: But it's the worst day it will remember.
It's probably not the worst day in this caterpillar's life: But it's the worst day it will remember.Courtesy The Agricultural Research Service
That’s a lie, really—If I suddenly discovered that I had the ability to lay eggs inside a living caterpillar, I would probably have myself sealed in a basement. An eternity of being bricked off in an alcove is probably preferable to an all-encompassing desire to stab an ovipositor into moth larvae.

Unless you’re a wasp. It seems that the world, in its unceasing attempts to gross us out, has come up with something new: a wasp that lays eggs in a caterpillar. That, obviously, is nothing remarkable—all sorts of things stick their offspring in other things. This wasp, however, turns the caterpillar into a zombie guardian of the wasp larvae as they hatch and crawl out of its body. Oh, man! What a trick!

So, the wasp larvae hatch (again, inside the body of the caterpillar), and then chew their way out of its body. Once they’re out, and doing…whatever it is parasitic wasp larvae do (Sega Genesis?), the caterpillar stops eating, remains close to the larvae, and uses its head as a club, thrashing its body to beat away any predators.

I’m sure that all the other little wasplings are super jealous of those who have huge zombie bodyguards, but, more than that, research has shown that zombie caterpillar bodyguards increase chances of larvae survival by 200%.

So, to refine my earlier statement, if I could turn caterpillars into zombie servants, I would. But not if it meant that I had to lay little JGordon eggs in them. Yuck. I don’t think that’s how I was born (although my mother has always been pretty vague on the subject, and my father always refused to discuss it at all).

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