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biological warfare

(via Gizmodo)

Parasitic Wasps Genetically Enslave Butterflies

It’s official: Parasitic wasps are the slave drivers of the insect kingdom. But if you’re thinking whips and chains, you’re not giving evolution nearly enough credit. Wasps enslave with biological warfare, genetically programming caterpillars to be the perfect hosts.

Tens of thousands of parasitic wasp species, called braconids, lay their eggs inside the caterpillars of virtually all lepidopterans, the insect order that includes moths and butterflies. It’s the textbook example of a host-parasite relationship. And it’s a partnership that runs far deeper than we imagined, according to a study published today in PLOS Genetics.

Analyzing the genomes of… Continue reading