Capitojoppa amazonica female

Scientists at Utah State University have recently discovered a new genus of parasitic wasps that employ a multitude of strategies involving impaling its victims, sucking on their blood, before finally eating them from inside out, all while laying its eggs inside of them.

I have always be fascinated with creepy insects and their distinctive characteristics and behaviors, but this newfound genus with such bizarre behavior might top my list as the scariest!

The name of this parasitic wasp, Capitojoppa amazonica, is a combination of ‘capito,’ alluding to its notably bulbous head, and ‘joppa,’ referencing to a similar genus of wasps.d

Brandon Claridge, a lead researcher of the project, stumbled upon this horrifying insect during their expedition in the National Reserve of Allpahuayo-Mishana in Peru, where they employed malaise traps to ensnare as many flying insects as possible. These traps eventually lead to the capture of a bright yellow wasp with a almond-shaped head and distinctive tube-like appendages. Upon closer examination, the scientist identified that the captured species was an adult female known as a ‘solitary endoparasitoid:’ a parasite that lays a single egg inside its host (caterpillars, beetles, spiders). After the egg hatches, the wasp larvae will start to eating the host from inside out.

‘Once the host is located and mounted, the female will frantically stroke it with her antennae,’ Claridge said to Live Science via email. He added, “If acceptable, the female will deposit a single egg inside the host by piercing it with her ovipositor (a tube-like, egg-laying organ).” The wasp’s oviposition also involves intricate cellular processes, which can potentially trigger the release of enzymes or chemicals to facilitate egg deposition.

Beyond depositing eggs within its host and consuming their internal organs, Capitojoppa amazonica can also exhibit some other eerie and fascinating behaviors. For instance, after stabbing their hosts, these wasps will proceed to extract hemolymph, a blood-like fluid found within insects, from the oozing wound.

Hemolymph can also carry hormones – insulin, growth hormones – to target cells or tissues. As learned in AP Biology, hormones are signaling molecules that regulate various physiological processes, and hemolymph can facilitate that process by transporting hormones to interact with specific receptor proteins on the surface or inside target cells. Then, once the hormone binds to its receptor, it triggers a cascade of cellular responses such as gene expression, activation of enzymes etc… to carry out vital functions within the cell, ensuring the well-being of the wasps.

According to Claridge, “females will even stab the host with the ovipositor and feed without laying an egg as it helps with gaining nutrients for egg maturation.”

This lethal parasitic wasp was only one out of the 109 newly identified species that the team has uncovered.

But what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below about this incredible species.




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