The researchers describe the new species, which they dubbed the crypt keeper wasp (Euderus set), in ZooKeys earlier this month (January 12), and published the details of their bizarre relationship with the crypt gall wasp in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B yesterday (January 24). While it remains unclear how E. set wasps manipulate their crypt mates, the study suggests that it is to their benefit: crypt keeper wasps that didn’t bunk with crypt gall wasps—and thus had to tunnel their own way out of the tree—were nearly three times more likely never to make it out alive.
“This is the type of science I love; it leaves us hungrily asking more questions,” David Hughes from Pennsylvania State University, who studies manipulative parasites, told The Atlantic. For example, “how does this wasp get its egg into its soon-to-be excavator? And how does it do that so precisely to stop the activity at a stage where the hole is large enough just for a head to block, but not for the body of the manipulatee to emerge?”