left biblioblography: DEATH, HERE IS THY STING! SIX-LEGGED ZOMBIES

Saturday, August 26, 2006

DEATH, HERE IS THY STING! SIX-LEGGED ZOMBIES

For this Sunday sermon, let’s take a look at perhaps one of the bizarre and cruelest of natural phenomenon: the live meal.

I learned of this months ago, and it troubles me sorely. Why? Sure, they’re just bugs. Why then should I care?

Let’s shoot for the shock value here.


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“The emerald cockroach wasp (Ampulex compressa, also known as the jewel wasp) is a parasitoid wasp of the family Sphecidae. It is known for its reproductive behavior, which involves using a live cockroach - specifically a Periplaneta americana - as a host for its larva. A number of other venomous animals, which use live food for their larvae paralyze their prey. Unlike them, Ampulex compressa initially leaves the cockroach mobile, but modifies its behavior in a unique way.
As early as the 1940s it was published that wasps of this species sting a roach twice, which modifies the behavior of the prey. A recent study using radioactive labeling proved that the wasp stings precisely into specific ganglia. Ampulex compressa delivers an initial sting to a thoracic ganglion of a cockroach to mildly paralyze the front legs of the insect. This facilitates the second sting at a carefully chosen spot in the cockroach's head ganglia (brain), in the section that controls the escape reflex. This sting injects another type of venom into this section, and the cockroach will not try to escape.
The wasp, which is too small to carry the cockroach, then drives the victim to the wasp's den, by pulling one of the cockroach's antennae in a manner similar to a leash. Once they reach the den, the wasp lays an egg on the cockroach's abdomen and proceeds to fill in the den's entrance with pebbles, more to keep other predators out than to keep the cockroach in.
The cockroach, its escape reflex permanently disabled, will simply rest in the den as the wasp's egg hatches. A hatched larva chews its way into the abdomen of the cockroach and proceeds to live as an endoparasitoid. Over a period of eight days, the wasp larva consumes the cockroach's internal organs in an order which guarantees that the cockroach will stay alive, at least until the larva enters the pupal stage and forms a cocoon inside the cockroach's body. After about four weeks, the fully-grown wasp will emerge from the cockroach's body to begin its adult life.”

Let’s put aside for the nonce that we’re talking about cockroaches. Let’s instead, focus on the inherent ugliness of the act. Here we have one creature, that stings another one, not once but twice in two interlocked but specifically different methods. One to paralyze, another to submit. Then the prey is led to the den, implanted with eggs, and the wasp proceeds to shore up the opening to keep out other predators. Then the insect becomes living food for the larvae.
The part that troubles me? No, they’re just bugs. Anything that kills a roach is all right in my book. That’s why I don’t kill spiders, mosquito hawks, or dragonflies.

No, what bothers me is the intrinsic cruelty of the method. On such a miniature level.

If we were to hypothesize that there is indeed a creator, why would said creator go to such unusual lengths to create a predator with such predilections, this kind of diminutive danse macabre, ending in a zombie feast? Such attention to a negligible minute detail is…well, more than a little obsessive, and more than a little scary.

Not to mention that Lev. 11:20-3 says: “11:23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.”

So let’s review: we have a creator, who can’t even get the details of his own creation straight in his dictation, and yet can micro-manage just about everything else to the finite degree?
That deadbeat deity would’ve been better off separating our reproductive organs from our waste organs, than spending an inordinate time worrying about how some stupid wasp eats, and putting together some grotesque dining ritual for a bug.
Luckily, ain’t no such critter.

One more for the scoreboard that evolution did indeed form the world, as we know it.
That’s my nickel’s worth: save it for a rainy day.

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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a little scary how you and I think so much alike. We're going to have to find somthing to disagree on or else start a cult.

I have often uesd the inefficent and needlessly cruel "design" of the world in arguements. Alas, as with other bits of logic it never works against "mysterious ways".

If I could contemplate a kinder existance whycome He couldn't? remy

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy:
We're going to have to find somthing to disagree on or else start a cult.
A cult is what the larger congregation calls the smaller congregation. ;)
I have often uesd the inefficent and needlessly cruel "design" of the world in arguements. Alas, as with other bits of logic it never works against "mysterious ways".
Ah, the eternal cop-out.
If I could contemplate a kinder existance whycome He couldn't?
Simple enough. No such thing.

karen said...

When I saw the title, I thought this was going to be about one of those fancy schmancy rich people dinners where they eat live things and pay $5000 a plate to do it. EEWWWW.

Nature can sure be nasty, but this is an example of it's evolutionary ...um...genius.

Now, from a moral standpoint, if the cockroach could somehow overcome it's paralysis, does it have the right to abort the fetus growing inside it? ;)

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
Nature can sure be nasty, but this is an example of it's evolutionary ...um...genius.
Uh-oh, theists are ready to pounce on any minor example of personification, dontcha know?
(I say that because of a post on Pharyngula, where some creationist shouted "Ah-HAH!" because an evolutionist just used the word 'design'. I wish I were kidding).
Now, from a moral standpoint, if the cockroach could somehow overcome it's paralysis, does it have the right to abort the fetus growing inside it? ;)
ROFLMAO!
I guess it's contingent on:
A. Whether we recognize the roach as having intrinsic value, or
B. Whether or not a roach has a soul.
C. Whether wasp larvae have a soul at conception, or it needs to be in the 3rd trimester.
Yeah, now I'm getting just a tad silly.

karen said...

Uh-oh, theists are ready to pounce on any minor example of personification, dontcha know?
Yeah, that's why I hesitated a bit to use the word "genius". I was being too lazy to come up with something else.

On the abortion thing, I don't think the roach can afford to worry about the wasp larvae's soul during which trimester, cos by the third trimester, too much of the roach would be eaten away!

I can just picture the little xian wasps marching around the cockroach with their anti-abortion signs, completely ignoring the fact that a wasp forced the situation on the cockroach to begin with.

Sheesh. Talk about silly. I'm in a mood today!

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
I can just picture the little xian wasps marching around the cockroach with their anti-abortion signs, completely ignoring the fact that a wasp forced the situation on the cockroach to begin with.
Geez, what a busy bunch of bees!
Sheesh. Talk about silly. I'm in a mood today!
I'll say. ;)

say no to christ said...

LMAO!!

Wasps roaches and abortion. Only Karen could have thought of that. lol
Gotta love her!

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
Wasps roaches and abortion. Only Karen could have thought of that. lol
That, & the image of wasps in a protest march. Aye caramba! LOL!