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Newly Discovered Wasp is Like Something Straight Out of Harry Potter’s Azkaban!

Scientists have discovered a species of wasp so terrifying it got named after the soul-sucking “non-being” Dementors from the Harry Potter universe. Similar to the HP soul-eaters, dementor wasps turn their cockroach prey into passive, controllable zombies.

The wasp, one of 139 new species discovered last year in the Greater Mekong Region of Southeast Asia, comes from the genus “Ampulex” and is a close relative of the jewel wasp, which exhibits a similar behavior.


Here’s a video from 2012 of a jewel wasp wielding control of its own cockroach zombie, much like its newly discovered relative. Check it out:

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Although these wasps’ abilities may seem unlikely, their process isn’t that fantastical. Using their stingers, dementor wasps inject their venom directly into the nervous system of their prey, temporarily paralyzing it so a second sting can block the neurotransmitters that give the cockroach freewill.

Afterward, the cockroach no longer has the desire to move, and the wasp is free to control it by the antennae. It then guides the cockroach to a shelter so the wasp can eat it alive.

Patrons of Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde were asked to choose a name for the new wasp — and it seems they made the right choice. Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling retweeted World Wildlife Fund’s announcement, drawing some much-needed attention to wildlife conservation efforts.

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Matthew M. Sullivan holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Grand Valley State University, with emphases in fiction and nonfiction. He lives smack-dab between some railroad tracks and Grand Rapids Michigan's third-busiest road, and spends his time studying film and literary fiction.