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The best deal! An all-inclusive free flight with fresh food and protective shelter for your babies!

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

Because of their weak and less sclerotised ovipositor, phoretic relationships are frequently observed in the hymenopteran family Scelionidae.

Not hard-boiled, scrambled or an omelette….

Freshly laid soft eggs of grasshoppers are what they want for parasitizing

Easy on their ovipositor!

Parasitization successful.

Here’s the beauty, apathy or, some may even say, the cruelty of evolution:

The egg parasitoid Sceliocerdo sp. has evolved in such a way as to sense the info chemicals emanated (mostly the sex pheromone) by the grasshopper Neorthacris sp. This enable them to be so punctual to catch to their transportation (the mother grasshopper), free of charge and meals for their babies included. The parasitoids will thus reach the spot where the grasshoppers are about to mate, hold on to the abdominal segments of the gravid female grasshopper and travel along with her until the grasshopper finds a perfect spot to lay eggs. A scenic flight to a perfect parasitization spot …!

As soon as the grasshoppers lay their eggs (usually in the subsurface by digging a shallow hole) the parasitoids detach themselves, climb down form her abdomen and parasitize the buffet of freshly laid eggs. Unaware of any of these things, the poor grasshopper properly seals off the hole so as to give protection to its eggs before flying off.

Who knew fresh and soft eggs could be so good!? In due course, the parasitoid progenies emerge out successfully by feeding internally on the highly nutritive grasshopper eggs.

The ultimate betrayal! Gratefulness thrown off the flight as the mother parasitoid betrays the grasshopper who lent her own body for a free ride!

There is no sympathy in evolution; that’s why Darwin said "Survival of the fittest".

Do you know that parasitoids made Darwin to denounce GOD?

Charles Darwin once said: “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent GOD would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [a family of parasitoid wasps] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.” (However, we now know that the parasitoids were originally herbivores and then they evolved into carnivores as result of their search for more nutritive food).

Is this “The End” of the story?.... No, it’s merely “To be continued…”

Wake up grasshoppers!

Remember Darwin said about Selection Pressure as well?

Sharpen your senses!

Draw up your flight emergency plans!

Develop defensive strategies!

Brush off your ignorance!

Kick off the parasitoids!

Alternatively, ask your male partner to protect you and your eggs from parasitoids.

He just enjoyed having sex with you right! Let him do this favor to you in return.

Documented and photographed by Alfred Daniel J in Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. This encounter is a real fascination as Alfred just finished his lecture on "Phoresy by parasitoids" and found this beautiful interaction on his way back to his stay place. Alfred takes this opportunity to thank his guru Dr Ramaraju who encouraged him to take a seminar on Phoresy.

Magnified view

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