Far from being a weak-willed sap easily paralyzed by the emerald jewel wasp's sting to the brain -- followed by becoming a placid egg carrier and then larvae chow -- the American cockroach can deliver a stunning karate kick that saves its life, Vanderbilt University biologist Ken Catania has found. Catania, who studies interactions between predators and prey, read about cockroaches attempting to defend themselves from wasps, but no one had taken a close look at the behavior or its effectiveness. It required ultra slow-speed videography to capture roaches using the mechanism time and again to prove and understand it. He saw that, before the wasp can get into position and deliver its sting, the cockroach uses a swift blow with a spiny back leg to dislodge its attacker.
Provided by Vanderbilt University