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Wasp Feeds Live Spiders to Babies in Nest Made of Dead Ants

I’ve found the perfect monster for my next horror movie script – a wasp that paralyzes big spiders with a venomous sting, then drags or flies them back to her nest – a nest walled off with the bodies of dead ants which she killed just for construction material – and feeds them live to her babies. Got goosebumps yet?

This new species of wasp was discovered during a forest biodiversity and ecosystem project in Jiangxi Province, China, and named Deuteragenia ossarium, or “bone-house wasp,” after an ossuary, a depository for the bones of the dead. The researchers noticed the unusual walls of the nests of this wasp that feeds only on pollen and nectar. In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, Michael Staab, a biologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany, says the dead ants are bigger than the wasps and are there just to scare away predators, like the skull racks of sacrificial victims made by Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures.

It might work similarly to the skull racks, just not by vision but by scent. The ant chamber may give the wasp’s nest the scent of a fierce ant colony – and the nest is thus avoided by natural enemies.

(A) Nest chambers holding spiders and eggs; (B) wall made from dead ants; (C) dead ants; (D) bone-house wasp

(A) Nest chambers holding spiders and eggs; (B) protective wall made from dead ants; (C) dead ants; (D) bone-house wasp

The wasp doesn’t collect skeletons – it kills the ants and brings them back. All in all, this is a unique trait, according to Michael Ohl, a biologist and entomologist at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.

We don’t know of any similar behavior in the animal kingdom, where dead bodies of another species are used to protect the offspring.

The nest itself is organized into individual cells where the female imprisons the paralyzed spider, usually bigger than her, and lays a single egg on it which will eventually feed the offspring.

So, what should I call the movie? My first choices are The Ant-in-the-Wall Horror, The Ant House on the Left or I Know What You Did With The Ants Last Summer. Any suggestions?

Texas Anthill Massacre

Texas Anthill Massacre

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  • Kristie Layne

    Nature is amazing!!