Zombie Roaches!

Zombie RoachOk, not the brain-eating kind of zombie. Carl Zimmer has an update on the emerald cockroach wasp, Ampulex compressa. New research makes the story even stranger–it turns out you can get the roaches to un-zombie with a shot of the right neurotransmitter. Check out the video!

“Cockroaches can lose their ability to walk when stung by jewel wasps (Ampulex compressa) – the females of which use the cockroaches to feed their young.

The wasp, being much smaller than the cockroach, has evolved a fine sting that can deliver a venom cocktail directly into the cockroach’s brain. The poisons effectively turn the cockroach into a zombie.”

The actual research article is at the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Journal of Experimental Biology 210, 4411-4417 (2007)
“Octopamine partially restores walking in hypokinetic cockroaches stung by the parasitoid wasp Ampulex compressa”