A wasp inside a wasp inside a butterfly
October 13, 2021 11:24 AM   Subscribe

"The reintroduction of endangered species comes from the heart, a good place, but we have a lot to learn about the species we are reintroducing and the habitat where we want to reintroduce them before we do so..."
Butterflies released in Finland contained parasitic wasps – with more wasps inside posted by y2karl (34 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 


CRTW: Curiously recurring template wasps.

Yikes!
posted by y2karl at 11:30 AM on October 13


It's almost like as humans we're not capable of precisely managing the ecosystem even though it feels like we're capable of whatever we want.
posted by bleep at 11:31 AM on October 13 [7 favorites]


Wasps: “the humans are doing exactly as we planned!! Mwah ha ha ha hahhh”
posted by armoir from antproof case at 11:33 AM on October 13 [5 favorites]


[more inside]
posted by theodolite at 11:35 AM on October 13 [54 favorites]


It's the new turducken.
posted by MrGuilt at 11:42 AM on October 13 [5 favorites]


A tref turducken to be sure.
posted by y2karl at 11:45 AM on October 13


What a fractal horror of a post: the topic is horrible, but somehow every individual part of the topic is even more horrible.
posted by star gentle uterus at 11:47 AM on October 13 [17 favorites]


Ellen Ripley: "How many times have I told you assholes. How many times."
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:53 AM on October 13 [8 favorites]


A wasp inside a wasp inside a butterfly. Directed by David Cronenberg.
posted by Horkus at 12:03 PM on October 13 [9 favorites]


Some related parasitic wasps, can't find if this one, have venom with symbiotic virus that suppresses the caterpillar's immune system... but also seems to modify the wasp larva's digestion so that the hyperparasitoid wasps home in on it.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:06 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


I prefer to think of it as a wasp enclosed in a wasp surrounded by a caterpillar wrapped in a mystery.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:19 PM on October 13 [11 favorites]


So one could call this a butterfly effect?
posted by bq at 12:29 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]


I had several weird bugs in my house which I identified as ensign wasps. Cool, parasitic wasps, not harmful to humans. Not cool: They lay eggs in cockroach egg cases, so if you have more than one that's probably a bad sign.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:38 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]


Everything about this post and associated comments creeps me the fuck out.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:42 PM on October 13 [6 favorites]


Not cool: They lay eggs in cockroach egg cases, so if you have more than one that's probably a bad sign.

What did the parasitic wasp say when it saw the cockroach egg case?

"Oooh. Theca!"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:06 PM on October 13 [6 favorites]


Unrelated to humans fucking up everything they touch (although come to think of it, it is related) - wasps (and hornets) get such an unfair rap when they are as ecologically important as any bee species. Monarchs and bumbles get all the marketing hooplah from the meager funds out there to promote native gardening, lawn replacement, and habitat restoration. That has worked - common milkweed is a common sight here in Minneapolis, and has become an actual weed as it seeds itself so well, much to my delight. But monarchs are just one species, and ecosystem complexity drives ecosystem stability.

I've converted a large chunk of my yard to native flowers and grasses, and man, there are a lot of pollinators around. No issues from the wasps, even with two nests under the eaves of my house that showed up with all the new food supplies. No bites this year, and interestingly they rarely bug me when I'm eating outside, I'm guessing because there are plenty of better targets in my yard.

I have a plant that attracts parasitic wasps (Obedient plant, or Physostegia virginiana) and in what feels like a bit of an urban nature dead zone, they absolutely showed up, along with tons of bee species - many types of sweat bees, some tiny bee species I don't know the name of, and even some hover flies, which look a lot like bees. (Bumbles also go after the nectar, and their little chonk bodies barely fit inside the tubular / horn shaped flowers to get at the nectar, and it's fucking hilarious to watch them try. Wish I had a short video to share.) While populations of many of these species have been decimated by us, their populations rebound quickly if you give them their food and shelter back. That gives me some hope.
posted by MillMan at 1:23 PM on October 13 [13 favorites]


It's almost like as humans we're not capable of precisely managing the ecosystem even though it feels like we're capable of whatever we want.

It's not really a problem, though, we can just terraform another planet
posted by trig at 1:37 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]


wasps (and hornets) get such an unfair rap when they are as ecologically important as any bee species.

One crazy example:
Fig wasp, (family Agaonidae), also called fig insect, any of about 900 species of tiny wasps responsible for pollinating the world’s 900 species of figs (see Ficus). Each species of wasp pollinates only one species of fig, and each fig species has its own wasp species to pollinate it. This extraordinary diversity of coevolution between figs and wasps has become so profound that neither organism can exist without the other.
posted by trig at 1:42 PM on October 13 [10 favorites]


Seems more like a butterfly infect.
posted by Callisto Prime at 2:04 PM on October 13 [6 favorites]


It’s always Wolbachia. Creepy, creepy Wolbachia.
posted by clew at 2:28 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


Stranger yet, we can plant figs far from their native soil and get ripe figs, so somehow the wasps came along. Or are the far figs a parthenocarpic sport?
posted by clew at 2:29 PM on October 13


Or are the far figs a parthenocarpic sport?
Some types of fig that are grown for human consumption have figs that ripen without pollination. It is also possible to trick plants into ripening figs without wasps by spraying them with plant hormones.
Also!
Even when figs are grown the old-fashioned way, with wasps, the wasp is long gone by the time the fig crosses your lips. Figs produce a chemical called “ficin” that breaks down the wasp bodies.
posted by trig at 2:43 PM on October 13 [5 favorites]


It's the new turducken.

Matrywaspka
posted by atoxyl at 2:47 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


> wasps (and hornets) get such an unfair rap

as do mosquitoes, but it turns out some of them are pollinators, too. [Ze Frank's True Facts: The Mosquito]
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 3:47 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


I just can't get over the fact that we're really sitting in front of nature trying to turn knobs and crank levers like it's just another machine and not the thing that gave birth to us. The reason why this didn't work is the same reason Jurassic Park didn't work and they made that movie like 10 times already.
posted by bleep at 5:25 PM on October 13 [2 favorites]


And the reason is that you don't know what's going to happen no matter how sure you are.
posted by bleep at 5:26 PM on October 13


This is basically how I ended up in California.
posted by bigbigdog at 10:40 PM on October 13 [3 favorites]


previously.
posted by - at 11:33 PM on October 13


...the tiny parasitic wasp H. horticola appears to have been able to fly or at least to be lifted by strong winds to move between islands on the Åland archipelago, an autonomous region of Finland where Swedish is the official language.

This story even has Swedes into Finns -- it's the gift that keeps on giving.
posted by y2karl at 12:44 AM on October 14 [2 favorites]


The parasitoid wasps are fascinating. Estimates are that there over half a million species, many of them highly specialized in what type of host they are parasites of.

There are so many that new species are being discovered daily. An entomologist that I know here in the Netherlands specializes in parasitic wasps and has personally discovered and named hundreds of new species. I met him during an 'expedition' into Amsterdam's Vondelpark. We helped him set some traps, helped him sort out the insects and he looked through them and, yep, there was a new never-before-seen species in there. We all voted on a name and published a paper on it in BioDiversity Data Journal.
posted by vacapinta at 1:15 AM on October 14 [7 favorites]


Just filling in some CTRL-F gaps here: It's Wasps all the way down!

Butterflies have little wasps upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little wasps have lesser wasps, and so ad infinitum.

Fractals already mentioned: how about a Mandelbrot wasp? Mandelwasp!
posted by TreeRooster at 7:06 AM on October 14 [5 favorites]


While I'm not exactly Team Parasitic Wasp, I do find them fascinating - the way they are so well adapted to their hosts, and the fact that there are so many of them, as vaccapinta says. Pretty much every insect species has at least one parasitic wasp, as well as those that parasitize the wasps themselves. When Charles Darwin found out about parasitic wasps, he was so squicked out that he almost gave up biology altogether, although this was when he was still looking at it from the point of view that everything had been perfectly designed by God at the time, so it must have been especially startling. Who knows, perhaps it was one of the things that put him on the road to the theory of evolution.

Anyway, I think they are neat, although I probably wouldn't if I was a caterpillar. They are a useful reminder that nature isn't just there to provide us with cute stuff to look at.
posted by Fuchsoid at 6:00 PM on October 14


Also, parasitic wasps are the basis of a lot of biological control systems for insect pests, so they are useful to humans as well as just as pollinators.
posted by Fuchsoid at 6:04 PM on October 14


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