Tags: dementor | wasp | zombie | cockroaches | harry potter

Dementor Wasp, Named for 'Harry Potter' Creature, Zombifies Its Prey

Image: Dementor Wasp, Named for 'Harry Potter' Creature, Zombifies Its Prey
Ampulex dementor female. (Wikimedia/Commons)

By    |   Thursday, 28 May 2015 01:50 PM

The Dementor wasp, which turns its cockroach prey into zombies, is among a hoard of new animal and plant species identified last year in the Greater Mekong region that includes parts of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The nonprofit World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released its list of 139 new species this week, and highlighted the wasp alongside a color-changing frog, a long-fanged bat, and the world's second-longest insect.

"The Greater Mekong’s unique ecosystems are truly the gift that keeps on giving, providing sanctuary for a treasure trove of species and critical benefits for millions of people across the region," Teak Seng, conservation director for WWF-Greater Mekong, said in a statement.

"As Magical Mekong reveals, the scientists behind these discoveries feel they are racing against the clock to document these species and strongly advocate for their protection before they disappear."

The ocher-colored wasp is among the most interesting of the new species, and a natural history museum in Germany asked its visitors to choose its name from four different options. The visitors ultimately chose "Dementor," which was inspired by the creatures from the "Harry Potter" book series and was described for museum-goers as "magical beings, which can consume a person's soul, leaving their victims as an empty but functional body without personality and emotions."

The moniker is fitting, and the scientists who cataloged it described in gruesome detail the wasp's hunting technique when it comes to cockroaches.

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

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The Dementor wasp, which turns its cockroach prey into zombies, is among a hoard of new animal and plant species identified last year in the Greater Mekong region that includes parts of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
dementor, wasp, zombie, cockroaches, harry potter
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2015-50-28
Thursday, 28 May 2015 01:50 PM
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