Home > Everything Else > It’s Tough to Be a Kid

It’s Tough to Be a Kid

I’m going to blog another blog right now because I need to gross you out some. Here it comes. This comes via Listverse, and this is the item for Copidomopsis floridanum, a type of parasitoid wasp, on their list of the “Top 10 Fratricidal Baby Animals.”

Copidomopsis floridanum is a parasitoid wasp, one of the most extreme examples of fratricide in the world. The adult wasp first finds a caterpillar and stings it, causing it to become completely paralyzed. Then, it injects two eggs into the caterpillar’s body; one of the eggs is male and one of the eggs female. But they don’t give rise to one brother and one sister. Instead, the eggs quickly “clone” themselves, in a process known as polyembryony, and soon the caterpillar is the still living, but completely impotent nursery to 200 male larvae, and over 1,200 female larvae.

Out of these females, around fifty grow larger than their siblings, developing huge jaws but no sexual organs. It was once thought that these “monster larvae” were supposed to be the guardians of their smaller, fertile siblings, which would eat the eggs of any other wasp that could try to inject its brood into the already occupied caterpillar.

However, it is now known that this is not the case; they actually seek and devour as many of their brothers as they can find. The reason they do this is because the male larvae will actually fertilize their sisters while inside the caterpillar, and only one or two males are enough to fertilize all the females. Therefore, by eliminating the surplus of males, the cannibalistic larvae ensure that there will be more food (the unfortunate caterpillar’s body tissues) for their fertile sisters, boosting their chances of survival. This is the only function of the cannibalistic larvae, since they are sterile and will never reproduce themselves.

Copidomopsis floridanum is only No. 2 on the list. Go read the rest of it here. Then have some lunch!

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  1. Not that Guy
    September 24, 2010 at 23:56

    Where are all the promised Cat pictures and camping posts?

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