Scientists are planning on recruiting a tiny species of wasp, nicknamed “voodoo wasps”, in the war on agricultural pests and as part of a wider effort to boost food production. “The wasps are only 1 or 2 millimetres long fully-grown but they have an ability to paralyse and destroy other insects, including many of the most destructive crop pests, by delivering a zombie-inducing venom in their sting. Now scientists believe they have made the breakthrough that will enable them to recruit vast armies of voodoo wasps to search and destroy farm pests on a scale that could boost crop yields without polluting the wider environment with insecticides. The researchers have decoded the full genomes of three species of parasitic wasp, which could lead to the development of powerful new ways of deploying these tiny insects against the vast range of pests that destroy billions of tonnes of valuable crops each year. There are more than 600,000 species of parasitic voodoo wasps and they already play a critical role as a natural regulator of insect populations. However, scientists believe that the decoding of their genomes will open the door to new and better ways of targeting them against specific pests.”
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