The Jungle Report

June 15, 2006 @ 5:55 am | Filed under: Nature Study

If you’re just tuning into this story, it begins here.

Today’s news: still no news. Herodotus continues to munch unmolested. There has been not the teeniest tiniest sign of The Monster’s presence. Is he pupating inside poor old Homer’s remains? We cannot tell. I’d post a picture but it’s not a pretty sight.

I find myself checking on Herodotus like he’s a newborn baby with respiratory issues. Jane originally found him on the same parsley plant as Homer, on the same day. We speak of the implications in whispers: What if the mother wasp laid an egg in Herodotus too? Horrible to contemplate.

The suspense is agony: Is he a ticking bomb? Will he suffer the same gruesome fate as his fellow? Or will he live to unfurl his wings and sail off into the paradise of blossoms that is our perennial bed?

Meanwhile, we found this: the tale of an ichneumonid wasp whose larva actually alters a spider’s behavior.

The orb spider is stung while on its web and is temporarily paralysed while the wasp lays her egg on it. The spider then recovers and goes about its life with the newly hatched wasp larva feeding on it by sucking its haemolymph (spider “blood”).

For about 7 to 14 days, the spider continues building its usual orb webs for prey capture. However, in the evening of the night when it is to be killed by its wasp parasite, the spider weaves a different web, designed specifically to suit the purposes of the wasp. The wasp larva then moults, kills and consumes the spider and pupates, suspending itself safely from its custom-built cocoon web.

The spider’s dying act is to spin a cocoon for its assassin! Talk about adding insult to injury!

And how does the timing work out? I don’t get that “in the evening of the night when it is to be killed” part. “The execution was scheduled for the stroke of midnight.” Or is it like Charlotte, knowing her time was nigh, urgently extracting her promise from Wilbur as the strength ebbed from her body?


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Comments

5 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Altering the spiders’ behavior to spin a cocoon for the hymenoepimecis is awesome! I hope Herodotus is ok.

    Marianna

    We are following the saga breathlessly…

    Jennifer

  2. Some of us are following the saga tightly holding the trash can…

  3. Wow!

  4. I happened upon your blog from another one that I happened upon from yet another one. I tell you, these things are so addictive!

    I am also following the Jungle saga closely and find myself rushing through my shower in the morning just so I can see if there is news yet. Is Herodotus still happily munching? Is he out of danger??

    Your blogs are so well written – you could write a scary children’s mystery around the Jungle saga, Bunnicula style. πŸ˜‰

    Power, strength and courage to Herodotus!!

  5. My son and I are waiting for the update…how is Herodotus? Has he transformed yet? We’re so excited to hear the happy ending to this saga πŸ™‚