To fight foes, wasp eggs spew deadly gas
To survive moist, underground conditions, beewolf eggs authoritatively defend their turf, all without moving an inch.
Wasps have rather obvious defenses, such as venomous stingers. But their eggs—soft, oblong, and motionless—are vulnerable to foes like fungi.
Enter the beewolf. New research shows that this wasp has evolved an incredible way to protect their young: The eggs act like living gas grenades, fumigating their nursery chamber with anti-fungal fumes.
European beewolves (Philanthus triangulum) are solitary wasps that get their name from the females’ habit of hunting down bees, stinging them with paralytic venom, and dragging them into a dirt burrow.
The beewolf lays an egg on the ill-fated bee, which feeds the carnivorous larva upon hatching. While it’s a good place to hide, the warm, dank chamber is the perfect environment for mold to grow.
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