- Group: Dinocampus coccinellae
The braconid wasp is pretty impressive, as they do not go after relatively small beings to help them out. Rather, this wasp goes after adult female ladybirds that are fully matured. They have become so well-known for this, the wasp species has now been referred to as the “ladybird killer.” Essentially, the wasp will use the ladybird as a zombie for a temporary period as a guard for its wasp cocoon. Of course, after the cocoon matures and the wasps are ready to come out, the ladybird is free to go. While roughly 25% of these ladybirds will recover from their wasp encounter, the rest tend to die after this occurs.
Of course, it is important that this ladybird remain alive as long as they take care of these eggs. While they do seek out females more often, there are times when male ladybirds are used. The eggs are planted in the soft underbelly of the ladybird, which can sort of make it appear that the ladybird is pregnant. They will then hatch within a week. Once the first instar hatches, the little wasps will use their large mandibles and move around other eggs as they begin to eat the fat bodies and gonads of the ladybird. This ladybird will go through all of this hell for up to 27 days. The bird is still able to feed, which is likely why it can survive the entire instar process.