The world is rife with parasites that take advantage of other creatures for food or even shelter. This recently discovered parasitic wasp takes that cake, however. (Or should we say head?)
Named for Set — the ancient Egyptian god of chaos who could control other animals and is also known for trapping and murdering his brother in a tomb — the Euderus set wasp lays its eggs near the gall wasp, itself a parasitic wasp that burrows into tree branches, creating cells that become essentially crypts. Once it hatches, the crypt-keeper larva burrows into the gall wasp's brain. It controls the gall wasp and uses it to dig out from the cell — a feat that the crypt-keeper wasp itself cannot easily perform but the gall wasp is primed for — and then the larva eats its host from the inside and bursts out of the wasp's head. (Are you squirming yet?)
Outlined in a new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers from Rice University discovered this horrifying wasp on their own campus, thus demonstrating that we still have a lot to learn about the insect world, especially when they're right over our heads.