Home Animals Horrifying dementor wasp turns prey into literal zombies

Horrifying dementor wasp turns prey into literal zombies

Nature continues to be terrifying and gross. Despite mankind’s best attempts to destroy Earth, mother nature soldiers on unaffected, pumping out horrible species for our discovery at a remarkable rate. Case in point: The so-called dementor wasp, which operates by injecting its prey with a zombiefying venom before devouring it alive. It’s just one of 139 new species discovered in Asia’s Greater Mekong Region in 2014, according to a report released by the World Wildlife Fund.

The wasp, named for characters in the Harry Potter book series, hunts cockroaches and immobilizes them by injecting venom into neural centers located on their undersides. According to the report, the venom “blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement. With this blocked, the cockroach is still capable of movement, but is unable to direct its own body.” The wasp then leads the stupified roach by its antennae to a safe dining location, where it’s devoured alive.

Thankfully, these wasps are only found in Thailand.

Other notable finds from the Mekong Region include Phryganistria heusii yentuensis, which clocks in as the world’s second-longest insect at 54 cm long. The stick insect was found in Vietnam, which is apparently a hotbed for ultra-large stick insects: The researchers who led the expedition say they’ve found over 150 new species of stick insects to describe, all from Vietnam.

“Three of the biggest insects have just been described last year. There are more for sure!” said Jerome Constant, leader of the expedition.

Among the (slightly) less-horrifying discoveries in the report is the long-toothed pipistrelle, a bat whose fangs are far longer than normal relative to other bats. There’s also a new, distinctly-marked species of wolf snake from Cambodia, a thorny frog that changes color from day to night, and the bent-toed gecko that marked the 10,000th reptile species known to science. 16 bent-toed gecko species were discovered in the Greater Mekong region in 2014 alone, bringing the total number of bent-toed gecko species to 197. No other gecko genus contains more than 15 species in total.

The WWF notes that the Greater Mekong Region is one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, due to the construction of roads, dams and other infrastructure projects throughout the area.