A newfound insect has been named after the Egyptian god of evil and its probably a name well deserved.

Euderus set wasp is named after the evil Egyptian god Set. Its common name is the crypt keeper wasp. Image credit: Ryan Ridenbaugh and Miles Zhang

The crypt gall wasp (Bassettia pallida) is a parasite that creates small cavities in oak trees where it lays its eggs. This method of depositing their eggs causes the formation of ‘galls’ – a kind of swelling growth – on which the larvae feed, hence their name.

The gall wasp larvae then hatch and grow up protected eating itself out of the three. End of story, right? Researchers have now discovered another insect parasitizing on the parasite. This insect called crypt keeper wasp (Euderus set wasp) lays its eggs inside the gallfly larvae.

Just as the gall wasp manipulates plants to become their home, this newly discovered species seems to manipulate the gall wasp to do its bidding. It appears as if the crypt keeper wasp larvae reprogram the gall wasp larvae to emerge from its tree cavity prematurely, it also manipulates them into making the exit hole too narrow so that it gets stuck.

The parasite can then start eating the stuck gall wasp larvae from the inside and when the parasite is fully grown, it exits its host through the head.

Scientists believe that the parasite is too weak to be able to go through the bark of the tree, it, therefore, utilizes a different parasite to go through it.


K. Weiner L. Smith et al. “Tales from the Crypt: a parasitoid manipulates the behavior of its parasite host” DOI: 10.1098 / rspb.2016.2365