Manipulative wasp - Hymenoepimecis, Ichneumonidae
An intersting challenge for evolutionists to say the least.
William Eberhard describes an interesting relationship between a female wasp parasite, Hymenoepimecis sp., (Ichneumonidae) and its spider host, Plesiometa argyra (Araneidae). These species illustrate an interesting instance where an insect parasitoid is able to alter the behaviour of its spider host to the finest degree.
The orb spider is stung while on its web and is temporarily paralysed while the wasp lays her egg on it. The spider then recovers and goes about its life with the newly hatched wasp larva feeding on it by sucking its haemolymph.- Eberhard, W. G. 2000. Spider manipulation by a wasp larva. Nature Vol. 406. : 255 - 256. slightly edited for brevity.
For about 7 to 14 days, the spider continues building its usual orb webs for prey capture. However, in the evening of the night when it is to be killed by its wasp parasite, the spider weaves a different web, designed specifically to suit the purposes of the wasp. The wasp larva then moults, kills and consumes the spider and pupates, suspending itself safely from its custom-built cocoon web.
The cocoon web is consistently made to the same pattern. Deviations from that pattern would be disastrous for the wasp larva. The cocoon web is a simplified web and the sticky spirals and multi-stranded cable and radial lines of the orb web are omitted. This simplified cocoon web suspends the wasp pupa, safely protecting it. Vulnerability to heavy rains, for example, was observed in a related wasp species.
The spider's change in behaviour is thought to be induced chemically rather than by physical interference. The effect of the stimulus is both rapid and long-lasting. Observations were made where the wasp was removed earlier in the evening of the spider's final night and the spider did not spin the cocoon web. Then, the wasp was left on the spider and the spider was observed to proceed with the construction of the cocoon web. When the spider was allowed to survive the experiment, it continued to make the cocoon web the following night and some spiders reverted to making more normal webs on subsequent nights.
You can guess what's coming. Yes, the problems the evolutionist faces when trying to account for such a magnificent display of intimate biological knowledge and information between 2 entirely different species are formidable.
Information. Precise and concise. In vast amounts. Unaccounted for. The great enemy of neo-Darwinism!
This is of course the only way this wasp reproduces.
Now I'm certain that others more eloquent than myself could get the gist of the problematic here into better wording than I, but here goes...
Lets take a simple look at this subject from a purely logical stance. We don't need vast biological knowledge and understanding to see the implications involved in this instance of insect behavior (entomology).
The wasp "knows" an impossible lot about it's host's bio-makeup. The very existence of this "knowledge" needs to be accounted for. Wasps are not known to be among the most highly intelligent species on the planet. But this wasp knows just what and how to use this particular spider to insure it's own survival. How it can be paralysed, how and what can be used as food, how it's normal behavior is to spin web structures and how to bio-chemically modify that building behavior to it's own purposes.
Surely the evos amongst us must scurry in their minds to think up some kind of evo scenario to explain how such intimate knowledge and manipulation could have been acheived by this wasp with regards to it's host. I know I would be.
How, in evo terms, can the wasp know what chemical to produce in it's sting (we'll leave the pretended evolution of stingers and toxins out for the sake of simplicty), to paralyse the spider but not kill it?
How does the new wasp know what kind of chemical or whatever, it must inject into the host's system to alter it's web-spinning behavior precisely? And how did said wasp ever "develop" this modified web strategy - implying knowledge of the spider's current web structure and exactly how to chemically get the spider to build a web to it's own unique specifications? And this, without any inter-species communication system? How did the wasp know exactly when to do this, still saving its hosts' life for food?
The questions necessairly generate more questions and so on... The scene can only become more complicated as you go along.
Darwinists typically answer by saying the wasp doesn't "know" then they go on about selection. Of course the wasp doesn't know. Exactly the point and this makes the questions all the more difficult to answer. Multiple parallel, concurrent mutations all moving in a specific direction, unguided, purely random? It is not even logical. Ans, worse, the statistical probabilties involved are combinatorially explosive and hopeless for Darwinian theory.
You must account for the very presence of the information available to the wasp. Where did it get that from? It cannot come from itself - wasps are not known to go to ord weaving spider biology class to study the nervous systems of their prey.
You must account for it's ability to produce just the exact chemical compounds as will paralyse the spider, not kill it. And also for it's development of an efficient injection system. Again, this requires a knowledge of the spiders biological makeup, it's nervous system.
The hardest thing the darwinist must do is to account for the wasp's uncanny ability to make the spider, apparently without it's own awareness, spin a precisely designed, different kind of web that serves as a cocoon for it's predator.
How can darwinists explain all this without an intelligent designer, without any guidance from blind nature, using only random mutations over time and unguided, purposeless selection.
Creatures like this, displaying symbiotic realtions are found in vast numbers in nature.