Chemical Warfare (Part II)

Much like the blue butterfly from the previous post, the ichneumon wasp utilizes chemicals in order to trick the Myrmica ant species. However, they utilize a much crueler method. Instead of simply laying their eggs and allowing the ants to carry them away, the ichneumon wasp injects its eggs into the larvae of the blue butterfly.

Getting to these eggs is of considerable difficulty, as the wasp has to bypass all of the ants around the entrance to the nest as well as those tending to the larvae. When the wasp has located a colony that has taken-in a butterfly larvae, they rush into the ant nest. This seems foolhardy at first but the ichneumon wasp already has a plan. The moment it is attacked by the defenders, it releases a number of chemicals in the area. The chemicals neither kill nor stun; it disables the ants’ ability to detect pheromones, causing them to attack each other.

In all this madness, the ichneumon wasp safely injects its eggs into the blue butterfly caterpillars. As the caterpillars begin to cocoon, the wasp larvae eat away at the caterpillars from the inside, killing them. When the wasp larvae have completed their development into wasps themselves, they burst out of their silky prisons and rush out of the ant nest, spraying their chemicals to cause confusion again.

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