Zombie Cockroach!

In the spirit of Last Days Month, I’ve decided to dust off a few old parasite posts I’ve been meaning to do. So . . .

Meet the exoparasitoids!

Um, what? Well, do you remember toxoplasma, the beastie that lives in peoples’ brains and makes them act like cats? (See chapter 5 of Peeps for details.) Toxoplasma lives its entire life inside other animals; it’s a pure parasite, in other words.

But exoparasitoids spend most of their lives as free-living animals, flying or walking or swimming around like the rest of us. But at certain stages of life, they transform into parasites, sort of like werewolves turning from human into beast. An example of this in Peeps is the screwflies of chapter 10. They are normal flies as adults, but they grow up as parasites.

A few days ago, I was checking out Carl Zimmer’s blog and came across a post about a wasp called Ampulex compressa. Ampulex lives its life like a normal wasp, until it gets ready to lay eggs, at which point it becomes a full-fledged, zombie-cockroach-driving parasite!

Warning to the squeamish: Stop reading! Flee to Kitten War right now!

So what happens is this: when Ampulex is ready to lay an egg, it stings a cockroach on its belly, temporarily paralyzing it. Then it sticks its stinger into the roach’s brain, performing a little bit of neurosurgery. When Ampulex is done, the cockroach’s willpower has been destroyed!

It’s a zombie cockroach, a slave.

Ampulex takes it by the antenna and leads it home. The roach meekly follows, allowing itself to be sealed up inside the wasp-lair.

Do you think what happens next is pleasant? Then you would be wrong. (But Kittenwar is still available.)

Ampulex lays its egg, and when the larva hatches it eats its way into the enslaved roach, feasting on its organs. After growing into a fully formed wasp, it pops out in Alien fashion, as shown in the photo above.

Was that fun? Then tune in next week for parasitic cancer!

Plus, go buy The Last Days. Or the new paperback of Peeps!

Don’t they look pretty together?

And if you want to check out where all my parasitology is stolen from, go buy Zimmer’s book, Parasite Rex.

26 thoughts on “Zombie Cockroach!

  1. “Plus, go buy The Last Days. Or the new paperback of Peeps!”

    You mean they’re out already?!?! Or am I jumping to conclusions?

    Running off to Amazon now.

  2. Okay, Amazon still has it on pre-order. So does Borders.

    Unfortunately, in the process of trying to find out above information, I’ve found out that Amazon does have New Moon available. AAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! *freaks out*

  3. *sigh* If only Last Days was available too.

    Man, that roach is soooo gross. I found a dead one at work today and I was like “I hope there aren’t any parasites in it.”

  4. Reminds me of a short-story from one of the Hot Blood series in which a man and a woman are having sex when she invites him to eat her breast – literally. Needless to say, she’s not human, and she uses him as food for her offspring.

  5. Y’know what’s just as gross as that?

    Here in my homestate, we have these tasty little creatures called Palmetto Cockroaches (aka American Cockroach). I’ve seen them get up to about 2 inches long and about an inch wide. Disgusting.

    THEN we also have these weird things called Camel Crickets. http://www.uark.edu/depts/entomolo/museum/Camcrik1.jpg They’re like a mix of a spider, cricket and grasshopper. The thing can jump really, unaturally high. See that? That’s disgusting.

    Anyways, I will do my best to try and get those books! ^^

  6. You do the Palmetto bugs injustice – I’ve seen them as much as three inches long. But more importantly, these buggers can FLY! Yes, that’s right – flying cockroaches!

    Plus, they mostly live outdoors and fly around day or night. In fact, unlike their indoor cousins, Palmetto bugs are drawn to light like moths. It’s nothing on a hot summer’s night to see a dozen of them clinging to your screen door.

    Fun little buggers!

  7. John H— I think I’ve seen one about 3 inches only a few times, but, you’re still right!! And yes, yes they can fly. And, at night, if everything is quiet and you have them in your room, you can hear them scuttle around. *Twitch*

  8. I jumped from entertainement. It was all so interesting and aswsome.
    I posted it on my sort’a-like-a-blog for all my friends to have no choice but read.

    Excited for the Last Days!
    When is the Paperback of Blue Noon coming out?

  9. i made my standing back tuck!! exciting, but irrelevent… how gives a bloody hell, im happy. cant wait for TLD!!! uber happy-making.

  10. Peeps in paperback and Last Days aren’t avalible at Indigo yet either.


    I’m very very mad at Indigo.

    Scott, is it possible for some Peeps to be born?

  11. I really enjoy the world of peeps/the last days because it explains vampireism scientifically instead of fictionally The way it is described could be a real explaination of it (if it wasnt fiction)

  12. Not really. I’m just saying that the way it is decribed in peeps/the last days could be an accual explaination of it, not a fantsy one.

  13. Hey i just wanted to say that i love the book peeps and is the greatest bok of all time!!!! i love it soooo much and reacently read uglies and love it too! look forward to reading everyone of your books. is there a series to uglies?cant w8 to read the sequal to peeps love u sooo much

  14. oooooooo finished peeps today! begging to get the last days. still not working. must go beg more. ewwwwwww zzooommmmmmmmbbbbbbbbbbiiiiiieeee cocroach thinger. the whole biology lesson every other chapter started to scare me during peeps.
    1 because i was eating while reading the part about the meal worms
    and 2 because i actually was interested in it. AHHHHHHHHH thats a scary thought. biology… fun and not… tierd making?!?!?! sign of the apocylipse. ahhhhhhhhhhh lol

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