Numerous people suffer from arachnophobia, but spiders could well be developing their own phobias of wasps. New research shows that wasps can hijack spiders, turning them into zombies, before getting them to build a web to keep their larvae safe.
The chilling finds were reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology and shows how the parasite has the ability to take over the hapless spider. Keizo Takasuka of Kobe University undertook the research. He and his team made the discovery after collecting spiders from the species Cyclosa argenteoalba.
The wasp, which is called the Reclinervellus Nielseni and is found in Australia and Japan, manages to overcome the spider’s nervous system by using poison. The start of the process is inconspicuous, as the wasp innocently lays its larvae on the arachnid, but as it does so, it also injects a poison.
After about 10 days, this larvae then takes control of the spider as it feeds off its body fluid. The spider then starts to make a web to protect the larvae, a process, which lasts around 10 hours.
However, once the web has been built, the larvae then kills the spider, as it is no longer of any use.
These webs are certainly tough, tougher in fact than the regular webs that a spider would build. The center was found to be 40 times stronger, while the web was on average three times stronger.
„It’s like the Alien movies but on a miniature scale,“ said Andy Austin from Adelaide University’s Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald.