Wasps, the Silent Wolf Spider Killer
Even after being attacked, paralyzed and implanted with wasp eggs, a wolf spider is still fully capable of living its life fully mobile and active. A recent study was done by a Brazilian team of scientists, led by PhD student Hebert da Silva Souza, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Sao Paulo, and published in the open-access Journal of Hymenoptera Research, was done to follow the entire cycle of larval development from the egg laying through the formation of a full-grown wasp.
In order to do this recent study and observe the whole cycle of the wasp larval development, researches caught a parasitized wolf spider and placed it in a plastic container for observation. As the larva grew and fed on the abdominal hemolymph, the wolf spider continued on with its normal routine, being active t night and resting during the day. Researchers suggest it is largely due to the larva working to keep its host safe from predators.
However, at the end of 20 days after the hatching of the egg, the larva had doubled in size, and had killed its host. 48 hours after killing the wolf spider, the larva had consumed it. After killing the host, the larva found a place to construct a cocoon (16 hour process) and 32 days later, a fully-grown female wasp emerged.
In a comparison, researchers found that a relative of the spider wasp is known to manipulate the behavior of its host and enwrapping itself and the larva in the cocoon for protection while feeding.
Overall, the researchers suggest the interaction between the wolf spider and the wasp could provide more information relating to the evolution of this kind of parasitism.