Image Credit: Sean McCann

 

Just as we have before, we are to tell you about the twisted ways in which nature survives. Speaking of twisted, meet the Twisted-Wing Parasite, or 'Strepsiptera'.

 

Now, I referred to them as body snatchers because they actually thrive using a host's body, most likely a bee or wasp. The larval stage parasite will climb a flower and wait for an unsuspecting pollinator to mosey on by. Once they hitch a ride on their new host, they burrow into their body by producing an oral secretion that softens their host's exoskeleton. Following this, they evolve into the second stage larva, which then feed off the blood and non-vital tissues of their host.

 

After pupating in their host, the male Strepsiptera will exit and search for a mate, taking so little time that they never fully develop a mouth, leaving around 5 hours of food reserves to find a mate. Left behind in the host, is the adult female... She will stay in there for the rest of her life and because of this she never develops legs or wings! Why would she? She never has to leave the house. The female can take up to 90% of her host's abdominal volume, with only her reproductive organs protruding from the host's body to attract a mate. Once this has taken place, the female can produce between 2500 and 7000 offspring. This new generation of Strepsiptera then escape through the females body to go and start the great circle of life again.

 

 

Also, these body snatching fiends somewhat perform an unwanted gender reassignment to their host; this is known as parasitic castration (stylopized), in which their infestation can damage the reproductive organs of their host and cause them to change sex characteristics (so females would look like males).

 

To that we say;

Go home nature, you're drunk!


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