The Wasp That Abducts Spiders and Uses Dead Ants to Build Their Nest
You’ve probably heard of serial killers that stuffed the dead bodies of their victims inside walls to hide them. Well, us humans aren’t the first ones to think of this. One wasp lines its nest with the bodies of dead ants to line their nests and provide protection from any would-be predators. It also regularly abducts spiders and buries them alive with their eggs to be used as food for their hungry little babies. This may sound like a plot from a horror movie, but it is just a regular day in the life of the bone-house wasp.
Bone-house wasps are one of many species of spider-hunting wasps, but they take the cake when it comes to the body count found in its nest. However, the adult wasps aren’t voracious insect-eaters. They actually subsist on a harmless diet of primarily nectar. So, why all the killing? Well, their babies wake up very hungry and seem to have a taste for spider meat.
When a bone-house wasp is about to lay her eggs she first goes hunting for a spider. When she finds a worthy meal, however, she doesn’t kill it, but simply injects it with venom that paralyzes her prey but leaves it very much alive. She then drags the spider back to the nest she has built to house her offspring, and stuffs it into the deep cavity, laying her eggs beside it. When she finishes she makes an entry compartment or vestibule, and finally seals it up to prevent predators from eating her babies and hits the road, never to think of them again.
That outer vestibule isn’t made up of just dirt and other plant debris, though. The bone-house wasp takes it one step further and will fill the outer chamber with dead ants, using them to line the sealed entrance and provide further protection to her offspring. Scientists believe that the ants most likely help deter predators and camouflage any odors that would reveal the location of her eggs. The dead ants aren’t the worst part, however. Remember that paralyzed spider buried with the eggs? Once those baby wasps hatch, they go straight for that fresh spider meat, eating the poor arachnid while it is still alive. Talk about some bloodthirsty babies.
Do you know of any other gruesome ways insects protect their offspring?
Tags: pest control, wasps