“How Not to Be Turned Into a Zombie”—that’s what biologist Kenneth Catania titled his report on the parasitism of American cockroaches by emerald jewel wasps. If stung in the brain, the roach will follow the wasp into a hole where the wasp lays an egg, then seals the hole, leaving the roach to be food for the larva. But in Catania’s study, roaches that vigorously kicked and parried with their legs evaded the stings 63 percent of the time. Read more about the karate cockroach and other hard-kicking animals.
Humans have long derived morphine and codeine from opium poppies. But how did the flowers evolve to have pain-killing powers? Messily. The poppy’s DNA shows that over more than 110 million years, most of its genome duplicated twice and two extra genes fused into one that’s crucial for narcotic formation. The find may contribute to advances in opiates, which remain vital despite their addictiveness. —Michael Greshko
Glasswing butterflies are called espejitos—little mirrors—in their native South America. Wings that are transparent (because they have no colored scales) give them both camouflage and a delicate look. But that’s deceiving: Some glasswings can carry nearly 40 times their own weight. —Patricia Edmonds