|Volume 19 Number 10 October 2017||
The Crypt-Keeper Wasp
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). In this verse, Paul described the fact that by looking at the “things that are made” we can “clearly see” “invisible things” that show the “eternal power and Godhead” of the Creator. In 2015 a discovery from the “creation of the world” shows again the mystery and the wisdom of our Creator. Let’s take a look at the discovery and the amazing life of the Crypt-Keeper Wasp.
In the summer of 2015, a scientist walking through the woods in the southeastern United States noticed small swellings on the twigs of sand live oak trees. He was familiar with gall insects where the mother lays her eggs in oak trees and the larva develops in the limb in a small enclosed area called a “gall,” taking nutrients from the host tree. So he collected a few twigs and watched the development of these insects, and to his amazement, a story began to develop that was unlike anything known to science. His discovery was a new parasitic wasp species with a life cycle so diabolical, they named it after “Set,” the Egyptian god of evil and chaos; they named it the crypt-keeper wasp, Euderus set.
The reason for such a dark name of this new species of wasp has to do with its hyperparasitic life style. A hyperparasite is a parasite living on another parasite. The mother crypt-keeper wasp looks for a very specific location to lay her egg when spring comes. She looks for an existing crypt of a “crypt gall wasp,” which is another species of wasp that is a parasite of the oak tree. The crypt is the location where an egg has been laid and a baby wasp is developing. The mother crypt-keeper then lays her single egg in the same gall. It is now that the story turns gruesome!
As the crypt-keeper larva, which is iridescent blue, hatches, it will begin to eat and burrow into its gall companion. There are many species of parasitic wasps that lay eggs on other wasps that the babies eat as they grow but the crypt-keeper baby has been created with very special abilities. It creates a zombie of its host taking control of its mind and changing the behavior of its meal. Once hatched, the crypt-keeper larva manipulates its crypt-mate into chewing an escape hole that is smaller than it usually would use through which to exit. The crypt gall wasp host then plugs the small hole with its own head, while the crypt-keeper larva devours it alive. Eventually, the crypt-keeper larva turns into an adult and chews its way to freedom, through the head of its host, exiting through the hole wall-plug.
So the crypt-keeper wasp lives up to its namesake in so many ways. Set was thought by the ancient Egyptians to have controlled other animals like hyenas and serpents. He was also to have trapped his brother, Osiris, in a crypt, where he murdered him and mutilated his remains. So the crypt-keeper wasp fills the role of “zombie maker” to a tee, controlling its host’s normal behavior to chew an exit hole, then consuming it and leaving through the head plugging the exit hole. How does the larva crypt-keeper wasp know what it is to do to take this kind of mind control over it unwitting host? Without the Creator designing that knowledge into its genetic makeup, it would be impossible! That “invisible” knowledge is evidence that God is, and anyone who willingly rejects that is “without excuse.”
Ronald D. Reeves
The ideal membership sets an example for others in Christian living, whether another is a Christian or non-Christian, old or young. The apostle Paul, as he addressed the evangelist Timothy, said, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of believers…“ (1 Timothy 4:12a). Our personal example should be developed in speech, manner of life, love, spirit, faith and purity (1 Timothy 4:12b). One may observe that the areas in which we should spiritually develop to be a genuine example openly involve the whole of life. The apostle Paul did not give an exhortation that was impossible to fulfill. Knowing that the Lord is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35), may each of us strive to follow this exhortation from Paul. Along the way, we may influence our families to greater and better service (Ephesians 6:1-4), the impact of which will only be measured in eternity. We may also make timely efforts to influence our spouses to become faithful Christians (1 Peter 3:1-6). The potential good that may come from such efforts is certainly worth our investment of time to so do. An influential example for others is a worthy pursuit; let each of us truly dedicate ourselves to the task!