Zombie caterpillars controlled by voodoo wasps
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June 4, 2008: A team of biologists have studied a type of wasp that infects caterpillars with its larvae. And once the larvae hatch, they eat through the skin of the caterpillar and form into cocoons. The caterpillar then remains in the same place. It's still alive, but doesn't attempt to feed and but it only moves in ways that protect the cocoons from predators.

See Also



Game and Story Use

  • Use similar creatures capable on afflicting larger creatures - such as humans - and you have ready-made Nightmare Fuel.
    • Here is a possible scenario: Alien insects capable of infecting humans (and possibly other large animals) with their larvae start to appear. The larvae can be removed if the sting is discovered quickly and the larvae are cut out soon enough (this will likely cause a lot of bleeding if you don't know what you are doing). Later than that, it will require surgery, and the victim will likely be brain-damaged (and a society suffering from a full-fledged zombie apocalypse likely won't have the resources to care for the mentally ill). The infected zombies will become nearly mindless and preoccupied with eating food - including other, uninfected people. Once the zombie survives for a time and eats enough food, the larvae mature and the zombie will become visibly bloated - which means that the larvae will soon hatch, fly away, and infect more victims, leaving the half-eaten corpse behind. Killing a zombie in such circumstances is extremely dangerous, since it might release the zombie wasps prematurely. Using a flamethrower or similar area-effect weapon is safest.
      • Perhaps these insects have insect queens capable of controlling a large number of wasps. These might be more intelligent and capable of using intelligent tactics. They might even be sapient.
      • Perhaps the wasps can be controlled by other beings - humans with psychic powers or the right magic spells, or some alien entities which are using the zombie wasps to weaken the defenses of Earth as the first stage of an alien invasion.
        • In such cases, such beings might create variant larvae which don't turn the victims mindless or kill them, but which do control them - the larvae don't grow beyond their initial stage and continue to function as parasites. In such cases, the victims might not even know that they are being controlled.
  • The "renevants" of the Girl Genius work similarly - they are generated when so-called "slaver wasps" infect them. It turns out that the Big Bad of the setting - the "Other" - can control them. And later on, renevants turn up who outwardly look and act human and may not even know of their status if they aren't controlled directly.
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