- The Loom
Imagining My Homicidal Liver
Parasitoid wasps (or rather, one group of them called the Ichneumonidae) are the subject of one of Charles Darwin’s most famous quotations: “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.”
Scientists have learned a lot more about parasitoid wasps since Darwin wrote about them in 1860, and their elegant viciousness is now even more staggering to behold. Not only do they devour their hosts alive from the inside out, but they also manipulate the behavior of their hosts to serve their own needs (see my post on zombie cockroaches for one particularly startling example).