A new report outlines how parasitic wasps turn ladybugs into mindless caretakers, according to a Science News article. Scientists learned the Dinocampus coccinellae deploys a mind-controlling virus via the eggs sacks it lays inside ladybugs.
The RNA virus reproduces in the host’s brain, causing zombie-like behavior, tremors and paralysis. Once the larvae hatch, they spin cocoons and the ladybugs watch over them. However, once the ladybugs recover from the virus, they resume normal behavior. Researchers conclude the the wasps are using the virus as a means to control potential hosts instead of using a neurotoxin.