Terrifying Parasite Wasp Named After Beatrix Kiddo and That’s Awesome From All Angles
by Susana Polo | 4:13 pm, March 19th, 2013
If you’re unfamiliar with Kill Bill, it’s a two part Quentin Tarantino series featuring Uma Thurman as the Bride, neé Beatrix Kiddo, an assassin newly awakened from a coma who sets out to kill all the people who put her in it and took her unborn child, including the child’s father, Bill. In some of the most famous fight scenes in the series, she wears a yellow tracksuit with black stripes,while Flight of the Bumblebee plays in the background.
If you’re unfamiliar with parasite wasps, they’re the xenomorphs of the wasp world, in the genus Braconidae. Every insect in Braconidae has one thing in common: they lay their eggs in the sometimes still living bodies of their prey, so that when the babies hatch they’re already inside their first meal. New species Cystomastacoides kiddo has indeed been named after Beatrix, and yes, it is indeed bright yellow.
Thailand native Cystomastacoides kiddo is one of only four species in the genus Cystomastacoides, which was previously thought to only include a single species. The others are native to China and Papua New Guinea. There are lots and lots of species of parasitic wasp, each with its own favorite prey/egg incubator, most of which are other insects.
Many of them have really impressive (and a “damn, evolution, you scary” way) adaptations that aid their particular form of larval development. In order to keep their hosts from rotting after they’re killed, some of the secrete “antimicrobial substances,” in a way embalming the corpse. Others, however, implant their eggs without killing the host, and have adaptations like being infected with symbiotic viruses that compromise the host’s immune system so that it doesn’t harm the forming larvae. Some wasps even mess with the neural functions of their prey, zombifiying them into staying in one safe (for the larvae, at least) place even if they are starving, or otherwise into taking steps to protect the wasp babies that are eating them from the inside out.
In conclusion: Parasite wasps are terrifying and awesome. Beatrix Kiddo is also terrifying and awesome. For the whole story and a picture of Cystomastacoides kiddo, visit LiveSceince.