A resurfaced video of a giant parasite being extracted from a hornet is making viewers’ jaws drop.
The video was originally posted to YouTube by the individual who removed the parasite and has been viewed 10.3 million times. It was recently posted in Reddit’s “Unexpected” forum, which has drawn 60,000 upvotes.
In the video, the doctor who goes by “Kurosyamo” holds a hornet between his fingers and then grabs a pair of tweezers to extract the parasite, or Strepsiptera—described as “free-living and highly mobile” and infiltrate a host by actually entering the body, according to North Carolina State’s Department of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Most Strepsiptera, which are also known as twisted-wing parasites, live as internal parasites of bees, wasps, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, etc.
In 2015, Wired reported about the approximate 600 species of Strepsiptera. It was described as a “little parasite (that) invades the bodies of all manner of insects, where she waits patiently as the young that fill her body consume her from the inside out.”
Male and female Strepsiptera differ greatly. While males have wings, antennae, mandibles and big eyes, one University of Oxford entomologist described the female parasites as “a bag of eggs” with no eyes, antennae or mouthparts.
“Unlike a lot of parasites out there, they have no interest in keeping their host alive for very long: They use them, abuse them, and explode out of their bodies, leaving gaping wounds that haven’t the slightest chance of healing,” Wired reported.
A study published in Nature in March 2021 analyzed the lifespan of worker wasps that were infected with Strepsiptera and found that the parasite can extend the life of the worker wasps to help spread the parasite.
“Paper wasps infected by the Strepsipteran parasite Xenos vesparum avoid all colony tasks, cluster on vegetation where parasite dispersal and mating occur, hibernate and infect the next generation of wasp larvae,” the study’s authors said.
After measuring a set of host and parasite traits, researchers added that “infected overwintering workers” had larger bodies than infected workers that died in the summer.
The video showed the man somehow locating the parasite “inside” the hornet.
“This hornet is harmless so I think I can remove (the parasite),” the man said while using tweezers as part of the extraction process.
He eventually yanks on the visible “end” of the parasite, pulling it out of the relaxed hornet’s body. Multiple Redditors said the visual representation was akin to cheese being pulled off a slice of freshly-baked pizza.
At the end of the video, the man—who did not wear gloves during the procedure—placed the parasite on his finger.
“Why would he put that on his finger?” one person asked.
“He should have some fire to burn that thing,” another opined.
The doctor also got some credit from viewers.
“This is an incredibly skilled individual,” one Redditor said. “Imagine being able to grasp the wasp firmly enough so that it doesn’t move, but not so hard that it gets crushed. All the while, pulling out that worm-like parasite without breaking the body or crushing the wasp in the process.”