Bugs snuggle up to dead comrades for evading parasitic wasps

March 26th, 2009 - 12:32 pm ICT by ANI  

National Geographic Washington, March 26 (ANI): In a new study, scientists have found that insects known as aphids can evade parasitic wasps by snuggling close to their dead comrades.

A parasitic wasp typically lays its eggs inside an aphid. After hatching, the young wasp eats the aphid from the inside out before breaking free and flying away.

Normally, when a non-predator, like a deer or a rabbit, encounters a bunch of dead animals, its instinct is to flee.

According to a report in National Geographic News, that’s what Yannick Outreman, of France’s Agrocampus Ouest University, and his colleagues expected aphids to do when presented with a pile of aphid corpses that had been killed by parasitic wasps.

“We noticed that parasitic wasps tended to pass over plants that had corpses on them, while coming in for a close look when corpses were absent,” Outreman said.

When wasps see aphid corpses, “the wasps assume the area has already been overly used by other wasps and move on,” he added.

The team found that aphids near corpses were attacked 30 percent less often than aphids on plants without corpses.

The researchers said that staying near the dead increases an individual aphid’s chances for survival and aphids stimulated by the presence of corpses behave in this way. (ANI)

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