The Great Promise of Voodoo Wasps

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Researchers have sequenced the genome of three species of parasitic “voodoo wasps.” Since the tiny creatures feed on insects that plague crops, scientists believe they could serve as an alternative to chemical pesticides. If that weren’t cool enough news on its own, consider their method of killing, which sounds like something out of a sci-fi film. A zombie flick, to be precise. The wasps get their Voodoo nickname from their habit of zombifying their prey:

The three wasps all belong to the Nasonia genus and are strictly speaking “parasitoid” species, meaning that they lay their eggs inside the paralysed bodies of other insects, keeping them alive long enough for the wasp larvae to grow and mature into adults as they feed off the living flesh of their “zombie” host.

Said lead scientist John Werren in a statement, “If we can harness their full potential, they would be vastly preferable to chemical pesticides which broadly kill or poison many organisms in the environment, including us.”

News of non-toxic pesticides is always welcome, but these ideas rarely take off on commercial scale, thanks in no small part to the mammoth chemical pesticide lobby. We recently reported on Obama’s nomination of Islam “Isi” Siddiqui, executive of the pesticide industry lobbying group CropLife America (CLA), as chief agricultural negotiator for the office of the US Trade Representative. When Michelle Obama announced plans to plant an organic vegetable garden on the White House grounds, CLA members wrote her a letter saying the thought of chemical-free veggies made them “shudder.” Touchy, touchy. Isn’t it fun to imagine how they might react to a flock of chemical-free zombifying wasps?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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