Cotesia glomerata: an amazing example of what evolution is capable of

I’ve recently read Richard Dawkin’s The Greatest Show on Earth (the Evidence for Evolution) and it pointed me in the direction of the family Ichneumonidae, a family of parasitic wasps. Most reproduce by injecting their eggs into their hosts (usually caterpillars). An example is Cotesia glomerata, subject of the National Geographic program In the Womb: Extreme Animals. Here is a short clip:

I find this species to be an incredible example of evolution at work. Not only does the larvae of the wasp feed off of the caterpillar host, but after they bite their way out and make cocoons, the host caterpillar spins it’s own cocoon over the larvae, and protects them until it starves to death! Yes, it could be considered pretty gruesome, but fascinating nonetheless.

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