Why are Scientists Creating Red-Eyed, Mutant Wasps?

We love science.

After all, we have science to thank for numerous pest control service advancements, from our bed bug control heat treatments to other effective, environmentally-friendly pest control solutions.

But then science has to go and do something like this.

Why, science people, did you have to create these (presumably grumpy) mutant wasps? Were organic ones not enough of a nuisance?

We should have maybe seen it coming. The Nasonia vitripennis wasps’ genomes are the most studied in the order of insects, including bees, ants, and other wasps. This is in due part because they don’t need to be told twice to breed, and are easy to experiment with in labs.

But no scientist has had the cojones to mess with these wasps’ DNA.

And that may be why a team of scientists from UC Riverside and Claremont McKenna decided to do just that, creating mutant wasps with unsettling red eyes because angry, stinging wasps weren’t scary enough already.

How did science create such monsters?

Creating the awful, red-eyed mutant wasps closely mirrors the awful lifecycle of the airbone pests.

After the males and females mate, the females seek out fly pupae to inject her eggs into, because what horror story would be complete without this bug using another species’ corpses as a makeshift uterus?

Once the eggs are deposited into the pupae, the scientists took the fly sarcophagi, removed the eggs, and injected the embryos with a gene editing machine, the CRISPR/Cas-9 system. The machine has made headlines, as it makes controversial gene editing a breeze for scientists, it’s like the scissors and glue stick of DNA experimentation.

“You’re essentially pulling a small egg out of a larger egg, injecting it with components to mutate the DNA and then putting it back into the bigger egg to develop,” says Omar Akbari, an assistant professor of entomology, and one of the team’s scientists.

With the mutant eggs prepared and reinserted, it takes just another 19 days for the mutant wasp babies to emerge!

Aren’t the miracles of life beautiful?

Why did science create such monsters?

The glaring difference between average wasps and these mutant wasps are their bright, red eyes. Sure the look cool, but it doesn’t get more menacing in the insect kingdom than blood red pupils on a usually aggressive specie.

“We wanted to target a gene that would be obvious, and we knew from previous studies that if the gene for eye pigmentation was knocked out, they would have red eyes, so this seemed like a good target for gene disruption,” said Akbari in a news release.

“Big beautiful red eyes are something you won’t miss.”

So what was the point of altering these wasps?

As we mentioned, the N. vitripennis wasps are a lab tech’s best friends, seeing as the popular insect is so useful in clinical trials. Discovering that the most popular gene editing machine works alongside it opens endless possibilities towards further experimentation and learning.

This may help researchers understand their obscene method of procreating, where unfertilized eggs become males, fertilized ones become females ‚Äì with twice the number of chromosomes. Yup, they’re weird.

And with this red-eye experiment, they’re only going to get more strange & spine-chilling. Mutations, like evil red eyes, are inheritable, meaning if these were ever exposed to natural populations, waves of red-eyed wasps won’t be too far behind.

So, thanks science, we guess. We found wasps frightening and unsettling before, and you’ve managed to emphasize those qualities. Hurray?

Regardless of the eye colour of pesky wasps that may’ve breached your property or home, we’re equal opportunity exterminators. We’ll get rid of any wasps or hornets looking at you the wrong way.

For effective bee, wasp, and hornet removal service in Toronto and surrounding areas, call us at (905)-738-6676 for a free consultation, or book an appointment for a FREE quote!