In case our story about 1.5 million escaped cockroaches didn't convince you that the world of bugs is a 24-hour waking nightmare of horror, today we present this little story about the most sadistic mad scientist of the insect world: Ampulex compressa. Oh yeah, and we're also going to talk about roaches again. You're welcome.
BoingBoing recently published an excerpt from the truly horrifying (and totally non-fiction) book Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer, in which the author describes the nightmarish traits of many parasite organisms – including the ability to turn hosts into zombies, like this particular specimen. Ampulex has evolved a very special kind of sting which she uses to zombify roaches by injecting a special toxin into their brains, disabling their will to escape. Sensors on the stinger give it almost surgical accuracy. The venom doesn't paralyze the roach, however, and it can still walk... so she literally steers it like a tank, grabbing hold of its antennae and driving it to a burrow she's prepared in advance... and that's where the torture porn really kicks in.
Once the roach is sealed up in the hole, Ampulex lays an egg on its body, and after hatching, the larva will chew its way right inside its host, devouring all of its internal organs and basically turning it into a little house... while the roach is still alive. When the larva is ready to emerge, a full-grown wasp bursts out of the hollowed-out host, Xenomorph-style.