A new parasitic wasp species with a particularly disturbing, though undoubtedly clever, means of survival has been recently discovered by researchers. The Euderus set, also known as the crypt keeper wasp, has been observed to not just burrow into another parasite's body but also control its host's actions.
The Euderus set begins its diabolical journey early in its life, right after an adult Euderus set lays its eggs into the chambers of the very same tree that yet another parasite wasp species, the gall wasp, inhabits.
Upon hatching from the egg, the juvenile Euderus set burrows into the body of the gall wasp and takes control of its body. As it does, it urges its new host to begin its journey to freedom by tunnelling out from the bark of the tree. Without doing so, the juvenile Euderus set is three times more likely to die in its crypt.
If that wasn't sinister enough, researchers found that the larva makes its hosts drill a hole that is not large enough for both of them to escape, leading the host to be trapped in the hole. Once stuck, the Euderus set eats its host from the inside out, eventually popping out from the fallen host's head.
The newly discovered and observed hyperparasite (parasites taking advantage of other parasites) is native to the southeastern United States and is only one of thousands of other species of wasps. Due to its diabolical nature, the discovering scientists have named the wasp after Set, the Egyptian god of evil and chaos who, accurately enough, is said to have similar mind controlling abilities.
The Euderus set isn't the only sinister, mind controlling species there is, as proven by these other example parasites.
Zombie Ant Fungus
In the rainforests of Thailand, Africa, and Brazil, the Zombie Ant Fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis resides. The fungus first infects an ant on the forest floor for about three to nine days. When it is ready to complete its life cycle, it manipulates the ant to walk about mindlessly away from its group like a zombie, and eventually leading it to a location that's most appropriate for the fungus to thrive. The ant then dies and within 24 hours and a fungal stalk emerges from the corpse, ready to spread spores onto the forest floor yet again.
Kamikaze Horsehair Worm
The horsehair worm begins its diabolical life from its larva state when it is eaten by an insect larva that will likely to be eaten by a cricket or a grasshopper. Once inside the grasshopper, it continually grows up to a foot long and manipulates the non-swimming host's central nervous system to drown itself in the water where the parasite will then emerge and reproduce.
Sacculina Castrating Barnacles
The Sacculina is one lazy parasite parent. Its oppression begins once it enters a crab's body. Once inside, it doesn't just feed on the crab's nutrients in order for it to reproduce, but it also forces the crab to take care of its millions of babies as if it were her own. Her own. However, if the host happens to be a male crab, the Sacculina feminizes the crab by rendering it infertile and growing a huge abdomen just so it would carry the parasite's young.