The Mind-controlling Molecules of Wasp Venom Could Help Future Parkinson's Research
Down the line, investigations into the components that make up parasitic wasp venom could have implications for future research.
An emerald cockroach wasp (Ampulex compressa) can control the minds of roaches with a sting of its venom.
When looking for a host, one of these parasitic wasps will start by stinging the midsection of a roach, and their toxic venom will paralyze the animal's front legs for five minutes. With a secondary strike, the wasp will go directly for the brain, where the sting will induce an intense 30-minute period of vigorous grooming. After that, the roach falls into a lethargic state—called hypokinesia—in which it can't move by its own will.
"They're not paralyzed," says Michael Adams, a professor of entomology and neuroscience at the University of California, Riverside. "The animal can walk if it's led by the wasp."