Wednesday, February 1, 2017


“So nat’ralist observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller fleas to bite ‘em.
And so proceeds Ad infinitum.”
Jonathan Swift

It will invade your nightmares, and other living things as well. Meet the Crypt-keeper (Euderus set) wasp. This insect is named after the Egyptian God, Set. Set, the god of evil and chaos, trapped his brother, Osiris, in a crypt, killed him and then cut him into little pieces. It was also believed that Set had control over the minds of other animals, like hyenas and snakes. If you think that’s pretty yucky, then you’ll find the Crypt-keeper wasp horrific. Keeping all this morbid stuff in mind, and after you've read this post, I think you’ll agree that the Crypt-keeper wasp has been well named.

I usually post about some unusual or endangered animal. However, this newly discovered insect caught my imagination, and I have to admit that’s just the kind of stuff that writers enjoy. So, this week’s post will introduce the Crypt-keeper Wasp. It’s beautiful, and like other many gorgeous things, it’s deadly.

PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Forbes/University of Iowa

PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Forbes/University of Iowa

It’s the life cycle of this wasp that is truly diabolical. Discovered in the southeastern portion of the United States, the Crypt-keeper uses another insect’s (Gall Wasp) ‘nests,’ or chambers, to lay its eggs. Once the eggs are hatched, the newly ‘born’ larvae burrow into the body of the Gall Wasp. There it takes over the mind of the Gall Wasp, forcing it to tunnel through the pulp of the tree, creating an opening. Tunneling through tree pulp is something that the Crypt-keeper wasp cannot do on its own. The opening is too small for the Gall Wasp to escape through, which turns out to be good for the Crypt-keeper because this is when the Crypt-keeper begins eating the Gall Wasp from the inside out. In a final diabolic act, the Crypt-keeper creates a hole in the head of the Gall Wasp and emerges to the outside world.


The Gall Wasp in its chamber.

The Crypt-keeper wasp is an example of what is called a hyperparasite, which means that it is a parasite that takes advantage of other parasites. Crypt-keeper has brought parasitic behavior to new heights by taking over the ‘mind’ of its host and making it do things that would be detrimental to its life. This mind-bending behavior is called hypermanipulation. Although this discovery has stunned the world of insect/animal behavior, Andrew Forbes warns that it might not be so uncommon.

E. set and its amazing biology could very easily be incredibly common and we simply hadn’t noticed it until just now,” notes Andrew Forbes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Iowa and study co-author.

To learn more about this weird and fiendish insect, visit the following sites:

You also might enjoy this video which comes to us from Rice University where this unusual wasp is being studied.

Thank you for stopping by, and please take a moment to share. It’s appreciated.

Enjoy!  Simple

Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland and
One Hot Mess, A Child’s Environmental Fable
Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

To learn more about me, visit my ‘author page’ on Amazon:

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