A few days ago, Tavia sent me a link to a story that disturbed me. Actually, it freaked me the hell out, and kicked up my paranoia by a few many notches.
You know how we’ve all pretty much said that a zombie apocalypse is unlikely? We might be wrong about that. Because the zombie apocalypse is HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.
Okay, so, it’s happening to wasps, but it’s still happening. (I know, right? The apocalypse cometh.)
There is a lovely little parasite with a Latin name I can’t pronounce (vesparum something), whose larvae burrow into the belly of the European paper wasp when the two species make contact. (Let me repeat that. BURROWS INTO. As in, tunnels through this thing’s belly. Ew. And ow.)
The wasp basically gestates the larva, while the larva re-programs the wasp’s brain. The wasp develops much more slowly than its hive-mates and withdraws from the rest of the hive, ignoring what are supposed to be its responsibilities (like foraging).
And THEN. The zombie wasps totally lose their shit.
When the larvae are mature, they force the wasps to flee the hive to some location that’s unknown to everyone but the parasites. Why? Well, to mate. (Duh.) Of course, the wasps aren’t the ones doing the mating, since the parasites turned their wasp-making parts off when they were reprogrammed, but the larvae sure can. And they do.
And it seriously sucks for the wasps hosting the males. Because, you know, before a male parasite can get jiggy with a female, it has to come out of the wasp.
If you’re the poor schmuck with a male parasite, you’re pretty much dead now. Because the male will BURST OUT OF YOUR BELLY, in a blaze of glory and giant gaping holes. (Did you get that? Bursts. Out of the wasp’s belly. It’s like the Twilight birth, only with wasps and parasites.)
After the parasites mate, the male flies off to…somewhere, and the female stays inside its wasp host (it never actually left). The female parasite then forces the wasp to go back to the hive, where it pretends it’s a queen and does everything the queen would do. Except reproduce, so it doesn’t really do anything but eat.
Until spring. Then the wasps leave the hive and deposit their parasitic larvae loads under leaves. (You know, circle of life and all that.) After that, they return to the hive and try to promote anarchy.
They sound lovely, don’t they?
So…if these parasites are already taking over wasps, how long until they (or others like them) start taking over humans?
Or am I the only one freaked out by this?