Soul-sucking Dementor wasp one of 139 new species ( redOrbit) | Lao Tribune

Soul-sucking Dementor wasp one of 139 new species ( redOrbit)

dementor wasp

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

A newly-released World Wildlife Fund report said a total of 139 species have been found in Southeast Asia’s Mekong Delta in the last year alone.

Among the most fascinating species discovered is the Ampulex Dementor wasp. Named after the soul-sucking creature from Harry Potter, the Dementor wasp turns cockroaches into passive zombies by injecting venom into their abdomens.

“Cockroach wasp venom blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement. With this blocked, the cockroach is still capable of movement, but is unable to direct its own body,” the report explained.

“Once the cockroach has lost control, the wasp drags its stupefied prey by the antennae to a safe shelter to devour it,” the report continued.

Harry Potter raises awareness

The name Ampulex Dementor was actually chosen in a poll by visitors to Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde. Experts told Fox News that polls like this one help build awareness around unique species and conservation issues.

“I am convinced that events like this increase people’s curiosity about local and global fauna and nature,” said Michael Ohl, one of the Museum für Naturkunde researchers who set up the poll.

The new WWF report also details a number of strange newly found species from the Mekong Delta, including 90 plants, 23 reptiles, 16 amphibians, 9 fish, and 1 mammal.

One of the more unique species identified in the new report is the color changing thorny frog. The frogs’ distinctive back spikes have a pink and yellow color at night, and in the daytime the yellow turns into a darker brown.

At over 21 inches, the newly found Phryganistria heusii yentuensis is the second-longest stick insect in the world. The Mekong Delta insect is just a bit shorter than Borneo’s Phobaeticus chain, which is just 2 centimeters longer.

The delta where these and numerous other species live extends into parts of Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam, and is considered one of the most diverse wildlife regions in the world. More than 2,200 new species have been identified in the region in the past 17 years – an average of three per week.

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