Society

Ampulex Dementor: Newly Discovered Wasp Species Turns Cockroaches Into Zombies

| by Lisa Fogarty
wphotowphoto

A new species of wasp has been discovered in Asia that injects venom into cockroaches and can turn them into brainless, walking zombies. 

The wasp is one of 139 new species, including plants, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and one mammal, that have been found to be living in the Mekong Delta. Scientists named the wasp "Ampulex Dementor" because, similar to the fictional flying creatures featured in the "Harry Potter" books and films, it sucks the life out of its victims — namely, cockroaches, according to Fox News.

"Cockroach wasp venom blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement. With this blocked, the cockroach is still capable of movement, but is unable to direct its own body," according to a report about the species. "Once the cockroach has lost control, the wasp drags its stupefied prey by the antennae to a safe shelter to devour it."

The wasp, which lives in Thailand, has also been dubbed the "Soul-Sucking Dementor," CNN reports. It has quickly become the most popular of the new species found in Asia, thanks in part to a tweet with its name that was posted by "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling.

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A contest was held in May 2014 to help name the wasp, but also in an effort to get more people interested in the discovery.

"I am convinced that events like this increase people's curiosity about local and global fauna and nature," said researcher Michael Ohl, who worked on the contest. Ohl was one of five researchers — including Lukas Kirschey, Volker Lohrmann, Laura Breitkreuz, and Stefanie Krause — who discovered the wasp.

Sources: Fox News, CNN

Photo Credit: CNN