At that point, the baby E. set which has since hatched from the egg starts to eat through its host's body, and eventually through its head, and flies away into the world outside.
The first paper, in the open-access journal ZooKeys this month, describes the new wasp species in detail. This situation involves a parasite which is manipulated by another parasite. Aptly named after Set, the Egyptian god of evil and chaos, Euderus set is a turquoise-tinted wasp whose exploitative nature belies its tiny size.
The host is also a wasp, Bassettia pallida or the gall wasp, which matures inside "crypts" in branches of trees. The new study was recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. magazine. The horror show begins when E. set gets the gall wasp to chew a hole through the swelling and push its head through, at which moment E. set comes bursting out through the gall wasp's head, leaving bits of the poor bug scattered behind in its own grave (thus, the crypt analogy). But just as the crypt gall wasp manipulates this plant to become its home, a newly discovered species also seems to manipulate the crypt gall wasp to do its bidding. Researchers have confirmed the new species Euderus set, found in the Southeastern United States and goes by the common name, the crypt-keeper wasp.
As observed by Rice University biologists Kelley Weinersmith and Scott Egan, female crypt-keeper wasps also lay their eggs in the sand live oak's hollowed out twigs-directly inside the gall wasp larvae.
Unperturbed reproduction of the gall wasp. The way it goes about its business is basically by preying on its primary victim, another parasite called the gall wasp. He trapped Osiris, his brother, into a crypt, killed him, and then cut him into little pieces.
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The way the crypt-keeper wasp forces its host to make a hole, the scientists don't know yet. Since this hole is too small, the gull wasp's head remains blocked in the hole.
"It could be the parasitoid cues hosts to excavate early, but makes them do it less well than usual", said Weinersmith, who studies parasites.
Egan originally discovered the wasp on the Gulf Coast of Florida in the summer of 2014 before finding it in trees at Rice and in an oak tree in his front yard.
"You have this one insect laying its eggs into another insect, controlling its behavior, then devouring it from the inside out and [finally] emerging through its head capsule", said Egan in a Rice University video. After he initiated the study, other specimens were found in Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana.