Horror movies have taken ideas from insects and their special behaviors to create a scary story and some species of wasp are no exception.
According to George Hamilton, the chair of the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University, parasitic wasps inject other insects with chemicals that alter behavior to create a host for an egg to incubate. As the larvae grows it feeds off the insect until it’s large enough to emerge as a wasp. Meanwhile whichever bug the wasp injected acts very strange compared to its fellow insects.
These are not the only organism to zombify hosts either, said Hamilton, but there exists a fungi that takes over the brain of ants.
Most importantly, parasitic wasps are used as a form of pest control. Scientists have studied the wasp and, through unknown methods, taught them to attack only certain species of insects. Currently the emerald ash borer is a target for wasps because the destruction the borer has caused and its increased spread. Over the last 10 years the emerald ash borer has been killing trees from Michigan and onward to the east coast. The wasp is being trained and released to only target the ash borer in hopes to stop its movement.
Don’t worry about being stung by a parasitic wasp yourself! The wasps stinger is not strong enough to puncture skin.