A wasp species turns into a tyrant master of another spider species as wasp larvae force the spider to build them a nest before killing the host.
With their majestic web-building skills, the spiders of the Cyclosa Argenteoalba species caught the attention of the Reclinervellus Nielseni wasp species, that uses the spider host as construction workers for their nests.
The spiders, infected with the wasp larvae were observed and captured by Japanese researchers at the Tampa and Sasayama shrines of Japan. Brought back to the lab for observation, the behavior of both the wasp larvae and spiders surprised the research team led by Keizo Takasuka from the Kobe University.
As the spiders became the hosts of the wasp larvae, they started a relentless work routine, adding up to approximately ten hours. The team observed that the intricate web designs were in no way related to the usual behavior of spiders.
Rather, they were manipulated by the parasitic larvae into building strong and durable nests as the larvae were close to pupate. The nests thus created featured a cocoon for the larvae and even intricate decorations hanging around.
The hijacked spider host becomes the slave of the Reclinervellus Nielseni larvae after an adult paralyses the spider with just one sting in order to lay one egg inside its body. As the larva grows, the Cyclosa Argenteoalba spider becomes the helpless slave.
While the spiders are building the nests, the web that is the basis of the wasp’s nests is 2.7 to 40 times stronger than any web build by the spiders under normal conditions.
The frantic and relentless work is thought to be the result of a hormone cocktail that the larva injects in the spider’s nervous system, similar to that of natural molting hormones in the spider, only enhanced.
After they finish the masterpiece construction work, the wasp larvae set in, pupating in the specially designed cocoons. As they lay in their new nest, the hatched wasps lure the spiders in the web, where they kill them.
The specially designed wasp nursery thus become the place of demise for the spiders. The research was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology on August 5th.
Photo Credits: Livescience