Only Voodoo Wasps And Their Parasite Eggs Can Save Our Crops

It sounds like the start of some Syfy Channel original movie, but scientists are preparing to win the war on agricultural pests by using voodoo wasps that can turn other insects into living hosts for their offspring. Zombieinsectwar go!

The wasps in question, measuring between one to two millimeters when fully grown, paralyze other insects before laying eggs inside them, keeping the hosts alive long enough for the larvae to feast on them. Unconvinced? Here they are in action:


Researchers have cracked the genome for three species of parasitic wasps belonging to the Nasonia genus, and plan to use the information to direct wasps to attack specific insects considered dangerous to crop production, as the University of Rochester's John Werren, who led the research, explains:

Parasitic wasps attack and kill pest insects, but many people don't even notice them or know of their important role in keeping pest numbers down. We owe them a lot. If it weren't for parasitoids and other natural enemies, we would be knee-deep in pest insects... If we can harness their full potential, they would be vastly preferable to chemical pesticides which broadly kill or poison many organisms in the environment.

This isn't the first use of parasitic wasps to help crop production; they were unleashed in California last year to save olive groves from fruit flies.

Voodoo wasps that could save the world [Independent.co.uk]