The Emerald Cockroach Wasp: Nature’s Hidden Neurosurgeon

(Post by Jennifer Reutens-Hernandez)

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp, Ampulex compressa (Arthropoda, Hymenoptera, Ampulicidae) is a venomous entomophagous parasite that has the ability to manipulate the behaviour of cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) for reproduction in a unique way (Haspel et al., 2003). The female A. compressa is 22 millimeters long, with a glistening, blue-green body with red femurs on the second and third pairs of legs (Williams, 1942). The female also has a sharp ovipositor, while the male lacks a stinger altogether (Williams, 1942). The Emerald Cockroach Wasp replica cartier can be found in Africa, South Asia, and the Pacific hermes bracelets Islands (Williams, 1942). A. compressa is unique because instead of paralyzing cartier love bracelet
its prey, as other most other parasitoid wasps do, it uses neurotoxins to control the behaviour of the cockroach (Haspel et al., 2003).

Figure 1. An emerald cockroach wasp (A. compressa) displaying its blue-green body and red femurs. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Source.

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp attacks cockroaches and modifies their behaviour using a two sting approach. The first sting is aimed into the thorax of the cockroach, resulting in a brief paralysation of the roach’s forelegs (Gal and Libersat, 2010). This sting immobilizes the cockroach, allowing the wasp to have more accuracy in delivering its second sting, a strike to the head of the cockroach. Gal and Libersat (2010) identified that the Emerald Cockroach Wasp accurately injects the venom into the sub-esophageal ganglion found within the cockroach’s brain. This second sting is the most important, as it causes the cockroach to become ‘zombified’ and submit to the wasp’s commands.

Now zombified, the cockroach can be utilized for the next step in the reproductive cycle of the wasp. The second sting of neurotoxins initiates the cockroach to excessively groom itself for 30 minutes, and then become sedentary for three to seven days (Gal and Libersat, 2010). This sting results in the cockroach losing its ability to autonomously engage in movement, therefore, preventing it from escaping from the evil wasp (Gal and Libersat, 2010). Essentially, the cockroach’s free will has been eliminated. However, when provoked by the wasp, the roach demonstrates adequate walking capability, reversing the paralysis elicited by the first sting (Gal and Libersat, 2010). This allows the wasp to guide the now docile cockroach into a small burrow by dragging on the roach’s antennae like a dog on a leash (Gal and Libersat, 2010). Then, the wasp attaches an egg onto the coxa on one of the middle legs of the cockroach (Herzner et al., 2012). At this point, all that is left to do is close the opening of the burrow, which the wasp does by filling it with pebbles (Gal and Libersat, 2010). The cockroach is essentially buried alive, and does not resist cartier bracelets the entrapment (Gal and Libersat, 2010). The wasp’s job is done.

The development of the A. compressa larva only requires the cockroach for a week, then it pupates (Haspel et al., 2005). The wasp’s egg hatches two days after oviposition, and the larva begins feeding on the live cockroach immediately. In order to do so, the larva makes a hole within the cockroach’s thoracic cuticle and begins by drinking the hemolymph for the next three days. Five days after hatching, the larva begins to migrate inside the cockroach and eat the roach’s internal organs in an order that maximizes the life of the cockroach, but the cockroach eventually dies. The larva then spins a cocoon within the abdomen of the cockroach’s carcass, pupates, and becomes an adult six weeks after oviposition. The new adult A. compressa is ready to begin its life cycle.

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp is also capable of instilling biochemical changes fake cartier bracelet replica
in its prey. Haspel et al.’s (2005) study determined that the wasp’s second sting into the cockroach’s head can modify the roach’s physiology. They found that the cockroach’s metabolism cartier love bracelet replica began to slow down due to a measured decrease in oxygen consumption. This is beneficial because the wasp will be able to maximize the nutritional quality of the food for the developing larva (because the organs are still fresh). Another food quality control step that the larva takes is orally secreting a broad spectrum antimicrobial concoction which essentially sanitizes the cockroach for consumption cartier bracelet
(Herzner et al., 2012). They found that certain compounds within this secretion inhibited the growth of entomopathogenic organisms. For example, the compound (R)-(-)-mellein inhibited the growth of Serratia marcescens, while (R)-(-)-mellein and micromollide inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus hyicus. The antimicrobial concoction not only sanitizes the food source, but protects cartier bracelet of anastasia steele fifty
the developing larva from harmful bacteria that could quickly kill it.

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp hunts cockroaches for the purpose of utilizing them as an incubator and food supply for its offspring. By injecting powerful neurotoxins directly into the sub-esophageal ganglia, A. compressa successfully modifies the behaviour of cockroaches to fulfill its reproductive requirements. This mechanism of reproduction is unique within the animal kingdom and serves how much does a cartier bracelet cost
as a shining example of the complexity of certain invertebrate behaviours. Hopefully, the Emerald Cockroach Wasp does not evolve in a manner cartier bracelet price that would bracelet replica cartier allow it to parasitize humans during its reproductive cycle!


Gal, R., & Libersat, F. (2010). A wasp manipulates neuronal activity in the sub-esophageal ganglion to decrease the drive for walking in its cockroach prey. Public Library of Science, 5, 1-10.

Haspel, G., Gefen, E., Ar A., Glusman, J.G., & Libersat, F. (2005). Parasitoid wasp affects metabolism of cockroach host to favor food preservation for its offspring. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 191, 529-534.

Haspel, G., Rosenberg, L.A., & Libersat, F. (2003). Direct injection of venom by a predatory wasp into cockroach brain. Journal of Neurobiology, 5, 287-292.

Herzner, G., Schlecht, A., Dollhofer, V., Parzefall, C., Harrar, K., Kreuzer, A., Pilsl, L., & Ruther, J. (2013). Larvae of the parasitoid wasp Ampulex compressa sanitize their host, the American cockroach, with a blend of antimicrobials. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, 1369-1374.

Williams, F.X. (1941). Ampulex compressa (Fabr.), a cockroach-hunting wasp introduced from New Caledonia into Hawaii. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society, 11, 221-233.