Published On: Wed, Jun 3rd, 2015

Monster Soul-Sucking ‘Dementor’ wasp turns cockroaches into zombies

It’s the stuff of nightmares – a newly-discovered wasp that turns cockroaches into zombies.

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139 new Species Discovered in 2014 In the Greater Mekong Region, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, encompass 90 plants, 23 reptiles, 16 amphibians, nine fish, and one mammal.

Among the new species you can find the nightmare soul-sucking “dementor” wasp, the world’s second-longest insect, a color-changing thorny frog, and stealthy wolf snake.

The wasp that steals its prey’s free will with a single sting before eating it alive sounds like a monster straight out of a horror film. Visitors to the Berlin natural history museum MfN certainly thought so, voting to name this wasp Ampulex Dementor after the soul-sucking dementors from the Harry Potter novels.

Dementor hunts cockroaches, injecting a venom into the mass of neurons on its prey’s belly that turns the roach into a passive zombie. Cockroach wasp venom blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement. With this blocked, the cockroach is still capable of movement, but is unable to direct its own body. Once the cockroach has lost control, the wasp drags its stupefied prey by the antennae to a safe shelter to devour it.

The Dementor wasp and its bizarre hunting tactics bewitched the public at MfN during a public poll to name the yet-undescribed wasp. After participating, visitors said they felt a personal connection to the Dementor wasp and were more interested in this region’s unexplored nature.

Here is the Phryganistria heusii yentuensis, the world’s second longest insect

Phryganistria heusii yentuensis,   the world's second longest insect. © Jerome Constant

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