Scientists find new alien-like wasp that eats victims from the inside out

Dolichogenidea xenomorph wasp

Scientists have discovered a new species of parasitic wasp that eats victims from the inside out, just like the terrifying creatures from the Alien movies.

The new species, Dolichogenidea xenomorph, injects its eggs into live caterpillars. The baby wasp larvae eat the insides of the caterpillar, then pierce out like a ‘chestburster’ alien.

The larvae then morph into adult wasps and continue the hunt for more caterpillars in which to repeat the cycle.
 
School of Biological Sciences PhD student Erinn Fagan-Jeffries explains that the killer is so similar to the fictional monsters that it was even named after the ‘xenomorphs’ in the Alien horror films

“Dolichogenidea xenomorph acts as a parasite in caterpillars in a similar way that the fictional Alien creature does in its human host,” Erinn said. 

“The wasp is also black and shiny like the alien and has a couple of weird traits for the genus – so xenomorph, meaning ‘strange form’, fits really well.”

The wasp was found in Queanbeyan, New South Wales and in southern Western Australia, but likely has a wider distribution across Australia.

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Watch: How a parasitoid wasp works

Tagged in Research, School of Biological Sciences, Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science, Biological Science, Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity