If you're a caterpillar, it's game over, man.
Parasitoid wasps of the subspecies Microgastrinae are an actual horror straight out of H.R. Giger’s nightmare visions. Now, according to LiveScience, researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia have discovered a new species of this ghoulish insect, which, because it is just about as close to a Xenomorph as anything on Earth can get, has been appropriately named Dolichogenidea xenomorph.
Parasitoid wasps must kill to propagate their species. Sound familiar? Microgastrinae like D. xenomorph all deposit their spawn inside unwary caterpillars, but none are so nearly as likely to have invaded from LV-426.
Xenomorph wasps are a life form that easily could have emerged from the Alien movies. They have shiny, freakishly long black bodies, monstrous antennae and an extraterrestrial-looking ovipositor (egg-laying appendage) that injects chest-bursting eggs into caterpillar abdomens, The females — or Alien Queens, if you like — seek out the Australian moth caterpillar Antipterna euthanes. You can probably imagine the victims don’t move too fast.
Females will creep up on their prey and stab it with that ovipositor, which lays not just one but dozens of Ovomorphs that skip the Facehugger stage and hatch into larvae that slowly devour their host from the inside until they finally emerge from its insides. Being infected with just one Chestburster was bad enough for Kane. Imagine the screams if at least a dozen of them exploded from his ribcage.
The name that the wasp now shares with one of the most dreadful creatures in sci-fi is just as terrifying if you break it down. “Xeno” translates from the Greek as “strange”, and “morphe” means “form”. You couldn’t possibly use a better descriptor for something that could fit in with the brainchildren of Giger this effortlessly, even if it is only 0.2 inches long.
Even scarier (at least for caterpillars) is that scientists believe as many as 10,000 species of Microgastrinae wasps could exist, even though only a few thousand are known to us. Nobody knows if they have any relatives on other planets.