Emerald Cockroach Wasp Facts!

Ampulex compressa. Image credit: Mr. Roboto. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Emerald Cockroach Wasp Facts!

Ampulex compressa. Image credit: Mr. Roboto. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The emerald cockroach wasp is a vibrant metallic blue-colored insect, only about 0.9 inches (22 millimeters) long. It is a parasite known for its unusual method of reproduction. Adult female wasps hunt down cockroaches to use as a host for their young and also as the source of food for them until they grow up. She needs one cockroach per egg and the female wasp lays dozens of eggs.

When the female encounters a roach, she inflicts the roach with two stings. The first one paralyses its front legs. The second one is given to the brain of the cockroach. This second sting disables the victim’s escape reflexes. Since the cockroach is too heavy for the wasp to carry, she pulls on one of its antennae to lead it. The zombified roach will follow her without any struggle. The wasp leads the roach into a burrow and lays one single egg on its abdomen. Then she seals the burrow with pebbles. This is mostly to keep predators out rather than to keep the roach in.


Jewel wasp vs cockroach. Image credit: zimpenfish, (CC BY 2.0)

The roach will quietly lie in the burrow without protest, even when the egg hatches after about 3 days. The larva will feed on the roach for around 4 to 5 days and then chews its way into the roach’s abdomen, where it will live as an endoparasite (a parasite that lives in the internal organs of animals). The larva will eat the organs of the roach in a certain order so that the roach will still stay alive until the larva reaches pupal stage. It will then form a cocoon inside the cockroach’s empty body. Finally, the full-grown adult wasp will emerge from its cockroach cocoon.

Emerald cockroach wasps (or jewel wasps)are featured in the following book:
25 Beastly Bugs and Insects

The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about jewel wasps. Details of the videos featured are underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. jewel wasps by gillypil
  2. Wasp walks Zombie Roach by plantwallah
  3. Zombie Cockroach Guided by Jewel Wasp by TheRoachKeeper


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