Summon the Wasps, Brainwash the Crickets

The Happening movie SPOILER WARNING!!!

A few days ago, I saw Night Shyamalan’s movie The Happening. Main idea: since we ruin the environment, the plants begin to see us humans as a threat, so they release a toxin into the air that destroys human self-preservation instinct, causing all the people to kill themselves.

OK, I know what you’re thinking... "Plants cannot defend themselves in such a sophisticated manner; all they can do is stand still and Photosynthesize; there’s nothing similar to that in nature, it’s totally stupid." Or is it?

Some corn, cotton, and tobacco plants can emit chemical distress signals into the air when attacked by caterpillars like the tobacco budworm and corn earworm. By releasing blends of different chemical compounds called volatiles, plants can quickly and accurately communicate their attacker's identity to friendly parasitic wasps. This detailed information is important since each type of wasp can use only a certain species as a host. The attacked plant summons the relevant type of wasps. The wasps pick up the specific distress signal aimed at their species, fly in, attack the caterpillars and save the plant.

OK, I know what you’re thinking now... "OK, so they can release chemicals into the air to summon the natural enemy of their attacker, but surely one species cannot force another to commit suicide; there’s nothing similar to that in nature, it’s totally stupid." Or is it?

The nematomorph hairworm (Spinochordodes tellinii) develops inside grasshoppers and crickets until the time comes for the worm to transform into an aquatic adult. But there’s a problem - its host lives on land. So what do you do? When the time is right to continue its life cycle, the parasitic worm releases chemicals that brainwash its host, causing it to commit suicide by seeking water and jump in. The worm emerges from its host’s body and swims away while the grasshopper or cricket drowns.

So how about nature as your thriller’s screenwriter?

p.s. We have a leak! I told you bringing those 2 termites in here would be a mistake, Noah.


John J Savo, the Authoring Auctioneer said...

I release a chemical that causes my wife to get nervous when I'm confronted by a dumb-ass... This chemical tells my lady to be prepared for anything to come out of my mouth...

Uri Kalish said...


latinocool79 said...

Nice Info,

A lot of people hated that movie because the title is very open. Here in Peru the translation of the movie is "The end of times" so imagine what people expected. Most thought a religious thriller or a killing asteroid or even UFO's.

I kinda liked it. My wife did too. I like smart movies and though at times it was dull, it was different. Night creates his own environment and hooks you in it (well not all). The 2 movies I did not like from that director were Lady in the Water and The village but this one I would put a B-.

mantiz said...

plants killing humans, what a scary idea! especially because I live in a greener part of the planet! OMG i'm gonna have nightmares of a plant strangling my neck tonight :o

Uri Kalish said...


GraceMags said...

wow! truly amazing stuff uri!

sadly, none of the people i watched the movie with understood what it all meant so they went right back to rooting for the booming industrial site in our province that has killed thousands of plants. sigh.

Signe said...

How 'bout that...learn something new every day! Kinda freaky though.

Dano MacNamarrah said...

I worked as a scenic artist on the first three of his films (You won't see this name on the credits, as it's a nom de plume). It was nice working on films where the full scenic department gets final credits: That's rare.

I'm really glad that I took time to read your blog. It's smart, informative, with just the right touch of whimsy. Now I'm going to have to add its' link on one of my blog rolls. I don't think that you fall under "Mental Health Pros". Nor "Human Rights Sites". I guess I'll just lump you into the "Brilliant Blogs" spot, even though you weren't part of that recent award.

I'll put down "Fernat's Equasion" for a few, so that I can get up to speed on your writing.

Cheers, Dano.

Uri Kalish said...

:) Thanks!!!

Scenic artist sounds amazing! Can I see a gallery of your art somewhere?