It's getting all Harry Potter and the Walking Dead in the insect world where scientists have discovered that dementor wasps are turning cockroaches into zombies.
Ampulex dementor, a wasp named after the mythical Harry Potter creatures that suck souls, injects venom into the belly of its cockroach prey, rendering it a "passive zombie."
It's fresh food for the wasp, which can drag the zombie cockroach elsewhere to dine or to be a food home for its larvae.
"Cockroach wasp venom blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement," according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.
"With this blocked, the cockroach is still capable of movement, but is unable to direct its own body. Once the cockroach has lost control, the wasp drags its stupefied prey by the antennae to a safe shelter to devour it."
'Bizarre habits and probably bizarre behaviour'
The jewel wasp or emerald cockroach wasp (Ampulex compressa) also turns its prey into passive zombies, and is found in the tropical regions of South Asia, Africa and the Pacific islands.
The red-and-black dementor wasp is only known to live in Thailand and has "bizarre habits and probably bizarre behaviour," euphemistically note researchers in a recent study of the insects.
The dementor was discovered in 2007, but wasn't officially named until last year when a German museum held a contest to label the species. The wasp was one of 139 species — highlighted in the World Wildlife Fund site — that researchers have discovered in the Greater Mekong area of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. That includes 90 plants, 23 reptiles, 16 amphibians, nine fish and one mammal — a bat with extra-large fangs. You don't want to know.