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Science PopWrapped | Science

The Dementor Wasp Turns Cockroaches Into Zombies

Adam Horn | PopWrapped Author

Adam Horn

05/29/2015 2:23 pm
PopWrapped | Science
The Dementor Wasp Turns Cockroaches Into Zombies | Wasp
Media Courtesy of Washingtonpost
  The Dementors of Harry Potter fame are beings which can consume a person's soul, leaving their victims as an empty, but functional, body. As such, it seems fitting that a newly discovered species of wasp is named after them. A new report from the World Wildlife Fund describes 139 new species discovered in 2014 in the Greater Mekong region, which includes areas of Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos among other Asian states. These new species include 90 plants, 9 fish, a bat with extra large fangs, the second longest insect in the world (a walking stick measuring in at 21 inches!), and most interestingly, the Dementor Wasp. The Dementor Wasp, or Ampulex dementor, is native to Thailand and basically turns its prey into a walking husk. It uses a venom that it injects directly into the belly of its prey, especially cockroaches. This venom blocks neurotransmitters that allow spontaneous movement, meaning the roach is still fully alive and capable of movement, it just can’t control itself. For all intents and purposes, the roach has become something like a zombie. At this point, the wasp gently pulls the now willing cockroach by its antennae to a safe place where it can be eaten alive. Since 1997, over 2,200 species have been discovered in the Mekong region, but these species are in danger due to the destruction of their habitat, due to things like dam construction and deforestation. According to a statement by Carlos Drews, WWF's director of the global species program, “We’ve only skimmed the surface of new discoveries in the Greater Mekong. However, while species are being discovered, intense pressures are taking a terrible toll on the region’s species. One wonders how many species have disappeared before they were even discovered.”

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