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3 Wasps That Will Do Anything to Survive

3 Wasps That Will Do Anything to Survive

Wasps have a pretty bad rep: nobody wants
yellowjackets pestering them at picnics. It’s not like they make honey…they just
sting you! But there’s around 30,000 species of them,
more than all known mammals and birds combined! Some are stunning to look at, while others
have ridiculous names like “gasteruption jaculator” or “aha ha.” And some wasps go to pretty extreme lengths
to survive and reproduce: getting trapped in figs, destroying their own nervous system,
and cockroach mind-control! You probably know bees are great pollinators. And some wasps are too, like the fig wasp! They’ve lived, mated, and died inside figs
for millions of years, driving a complicated evolutionary relationship. A young fig is actually a bunch of tiny flowers
folded inside a pod. There’s a small opening at the bottom of
the pod just big enough for a female fig wasp to crawl into. In fact, it’s such a tight squeeze that
her wings and antenna are usually ripped off of her body as she climbs in. But it’s not like she’s going to need
them anymore. She lays an egg inside each fig flower, which
serve as little incubators. Then, she dies – helpless and trapped, but
her job complete. The baby males emerge first, chewing holes
into the leftover flower-incubators and impregnating the females before they even hatch to set
up the next generation. The males are wingless, and can’t survive
outside. But they dig tunnels out of the fig to help
the emerging females escape, to start the cycle over again. Now, what does the fig get out of this deal? Well, the same thing: reproduction! Figs can be male or female, too. And fig wasps can only lay eggs in male figs,
which produce pollen. The shape of the flowers in female figs, which
receive pollen, prevents it. So basically, every female fig wasp is born
coated in the pollen of a male fig flower. So it’s not great for her if she ends up
in a female fig, but it IS good for the fig! That female wasp will have some pollen stuck
to her from the male fig she hatched in, so it pollinates the female fig she ended up
in, even though she can’t lay eggs in there, before she dies. So the fig can mature into a tasty fruit,
and an animal can eat it and disperse the seeds. And it works out for everybody, except for
that one particular female fig wasp. Now, wasps come in all shapes and sizes. The biggest are Asian giant hornets, whose
queens can reach 5 cm. But others rarely grow larger than one millimeter
long! They’re too small for most predators to
bother them, and they’re tiny enough to lay their eggs in other insect eggs to take
advantage of someone else’s delicious nutrients. And they’ve pulled some nifty tricks to pack thousands of cells into a teeny-tiny body. Take this wasp with a mouthful of a name:
Megaphragma mymaripenne, which is the third smallest insect we know of. It has a full body with organs and nerves,
but it’s about the same size as an amoeba – a single-celled organism! To stay small as it matures into an adult,
it destroys nearly all the DNA-containing nuclei from its neurons… and somehow survives! We used to think all cells need DNA in order
to make proteins, and carry out all the processes that keep animals alive and functioning. But even with its ravaged nervous system,
these wasps can still fly, mate, lay eggs, and survive for five whole days into their
adulthood – which isn’t an unusually short lifespan. Some researchers think that this wasp might
make all the proteins and stuff its neurons need to survive for those five days just before
becoming an adult and bursting its nuclei. But it’s still kind of a mystery, and there
might be a lot we can learn about the bare minimum for survival from these thrifty little
critters. This female jewel wasp may look snazzy, but
don’t be fooled. She uses literal mind control to get what
she wants: live cockroach flesh for her babies. When she finds a roach, she hits it a one-two
punch of a venom cocktail. The first sting to the thorax temporarily
disables its front legs, and the second targets specific cells in the cockroach’s version
of a brain. The venom isn’t deadly, as she, unlike me,
doesn’t want to kill the roach… just change its behavior. Probably because of dopamine laced into the
injection, the cockroach suddenly gets obsessed with cleaning itself. The venom also screws with its opioid system,
making it much less responsive and less easily startled. So even though it has a clear size advantage,
it doesn’t put up a fight. After about half an hour, the zombified roach’s
legs recover enough to let the wasp lead it to its final destination: an underground burrow
she prepared while the roach was busy grooming. Once inside, she leaves the roach with a parting
“gift”: a single egg laid inside its body. Then she seals the tomb and goes off to find
another victim. There’s nothing the trapped roach can do. The venom keeps it in a stupor, but it stays
alive long enough to feed the new larva growing inside it, beginning the next generation of
cockroach mind-control! If you want to learn more tiny stinging insects,
you can watch our video where I talk about the difference between wasp nests and beehives. And don’t forget to go to
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100 thoughts on “3 Wasps That Will Do Anything to Survive”

  1. video title says that its 3 Wasps that will do anything to survive while the thumbnail says 3 weird things how wasps survive

  2. I wish they would add “zombie bees” in call of duty zombies. Can you image how scary that would be. Nikolai and Dempsey tho would be on point! Nikolai: “zombie bees!” Dempsey: “haul….ASS”

  3. Thank you Jewel wasps for getting rid of my disgusting everywhere enemies A.k.a. The cockroaches!! 😝

  4. I was hoping there was one that would make honey if it couldn't find anything else to eat. Oh well, there might be something delicious that wasps do make, and I want that.

  5. Maybe if wasps left us alone, they'd live longer…
    But nooo they just continue to chase us everywhere.
    We get startled if we're chased, they could just change their attitude and leave us alone and live a great life 😅

  6. So the wasp basically gives the cockroach heroin and the the baby slowly eats it alive, that’s incredibly ingenious but very terrifying

  7. Ok, how about we engineer some bees to replace the roles of these wasps?!
    Lets be fair, figbees that coat the inside of figs in honey would be much pefered to some bastard that just wants to sting you to death and eat less then a gram of flesh off your corpse.

  8. What ? I have been eating wasps ? What ????????!!!!!!!!!😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😨😨😨😨😨😨😨 I am an isectophobe . I hate insects . Whyyyyyyyyyyyy .

  9. The queen Vespa mandarina (giant Japanese hornet) can reach over 5 cm if u look up on Google searching for them u will see a hand of a man and they are way bigger then the 5 cm they r like 9-10 cm

  10. Hey… Nothing wrong with something that kills roaches. They seem alright in my book. What purpose do roaches even serve?

  11. The cockroaches get off easy having a mind-controlling cocktail keep them drugged up while a chestburster incubates inside them. They COULD be fully lucid and just be paralyzed, like another wasp does to them.

  12. Found a wasp nest hanging in a tree once, on a cold autumn day. So I SMASHED it to bits with a stick. The wasps were too cold to respond. Oooh, that felt GOOD! ☠️🤣

  13. Wow the impression from yellow jackets joke has changed in the recent political climate. I mean anyone sane will know there's no allusion to the protests that happened that one and a half year after this video was posted but still lol

  14. I didn't like Fig Newtons before. Now, I definitely don't like them. Extra protein, anyone?

    On the other hand, I hate cockroaches more so, Huzzah to the Emerald Jewel wasp!

  15. Soooo basically Jewel Wasps are rather tiny xenomorphs and the cockroaches are in the researcher’s position….got it.

  16. So the roach basically gets a heroin high ? And speedballs as well. Cleaning itself obsessively. Sounds like meth. the bee injecting it gave it opiate feelings of relaxation. Dam.. I want to get needle poked by that same bee ! Party time!

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