The (Almost) Web Weaving Wasp

The (Almost) Web Weaving Wasp

I believe by now we’ve discussed a lot of the evil wizard power of some wasps, but this is the first time I heard of them getting some real estate out of the deal.  Like so many slasher flicks, the story begins with the prey, a spider, specifically the Cyclosa argenteoalba.  Like many arachnids, it can weave different kinds of webs for different reasons, one of which being minimalist and un-sticky.  Now considering spiders get their food delivered, specifically by way of other insects smacking into their webbing, this may seem counter productive, but when they’re about to begin the process of shedding, it’s not too big of a concern.

Unfortunately, a much bigger concern is the incoming death casting them in the shadows.  While most wasps prefer to impale their babies into something else, the Reclinervellus nielseni just goes right ahead and lays their egg on top of it.  Upon hatching the larva will begin drinking the spider’s blood equivalent and starts to control it’s mind to essentially build a super (non-sticky) web for the next ten hours into an elaborate cocoon up to 4 times stronger than it’d normally be.  Upon completion, the spider will be lured into the hub and then finally killed.

Beyond that, the silk the web is created from reflects ultraviolet light, which will make the cocoon spun larva much brighter and clearer to passing birds.  Now, while this actually sounds more bad idea than good, it’s mostly used so the birds don’t smash into the web and destroy it.

To learn more about these wasps, click either here or here.

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