Gangs of beetle larvae lure fathers of their next meal into sex trap

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Enlarge / A desert (left) and beach (right) male, covered with beetle larvae that will eat his children.

Sometimes the Universe fills you with wonder. Other times, well, it leaves you filled with existential dread. This story falls into the latter category.

It's about bees, and the beetles that do horrifying things to them. Like luring them into expecting sex, only to be swarmed by beetle larvae, who hop on to the bee to get a free ride to a bee's nest, where they eat the next generation. New research shows that the beetles are not just kind of evil, but phenomenally good at it, customizing a mix of pheromones to lure the local bee population and lurking where bees go looking for sex.

Dinner for dozens

The beetles in question are generically termed "blister beetles," part of a large group of insects that you probably wouldn't look twice at. The adults are pretty generically beetle-like, and generally flightless. Many adults are vegetarians. The problem is their kids.

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