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Catania Lab, Vanderbilt University

Cockroaches use karate kicks to avoid becoming zombies

If you’re looking to avoid becoming one of the living dead this Halloween, you might want to take a page out of the cockroach survival guide. Researchers wanted to see whether roaches had developed any specific defense mechanisms to ward off emerald jewel wasps, whose stings can paralyze roaches, turning them first into a zombie egg vessel, then food for wasp larvae. Using ultra–slow-speed videography, the scientists spotted the cockroaches delivering karate kicks with their spiny back legs to the heads of wasps getting into stinging position, The Atlantic reports. Of the adult cockroaches that attempted the roundhouse maneuver, 63% were successful in getting the wasp to buzz off towards an easier target, the researchers report today in Brain, Behavior and Evolution.

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