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"They were doing research on some parasitic a wasp. A wasp that turns living things into zombies."
Isabela Keyes discussing the Ampulex Compressa Giganteus.

Ampulex Compressa Giganteus are the biologically and genetically modified wasps responsible for the zombie outbreak. Carlito Keyes unleashes these wasps on Willamette, zombifying almost the entire population. Dr. Russell Barnaby is one of the scientists who helped to create them, originally intended to curb a meat shortage. Queens are the adult version seen in-game.

Origins and Significance[]

The Ampulex Compressa Giganteus originated from the region bordering the Pachacamac River near the Central American town of Santa Cabeza. A U.S. government-funded research facility was established in the town, whose scientific personnel, lead by Dr. Russell Barnaby, aimed to find a way to mass-produce the cattle population and reduce the cost of breeding for the rapidly-increasing American consumer demand. During their research, they discovered the species' presence. It was a previously unidentified and undiscovered species of insect. Though the species was much larger and more aggressive than its similarly-resembled wasp and bee counterparts, the laboratory staff referred to them as such when speaking casually. The team also witnessed firsthand the insect's birth process and its dependency upon host species to live. The wasps also possessed their own version of Queens, mature insect matriarchs who conduct the hosting process.

Dr. Barnaby and his research team were going to harness the species and use its abnormal but useful properties to accelerate the production of meat, by using the parahormone produced by the species' larva to stimulate cattle's appetites, leading to fatter cows. They experimented on rats and cattle to see what the new species would do to its host and witnessed it zombifying the rats and cattle. Unfortunately, a Queen escaped the facility; instead, they witnessed the horrifying effect the species had on humans.

The fully grown ACG specimens appear to have an adverse effect on human hosts, or "zombies", as they can make their heads explode if crushed. This could have something to do with pheromones.

Life Cycle: The Parasitic Process[]

  1. A fertilized female incubates its eggs within the womb.
  2. When the parasite discovers a potential host (generally the South American butterfly known as Thysania Agrippina), it injects an egg into the host's body.
  3. The virus injected along with the egg effectively prevents the host's immune system from recognizing the contamination, facilitating the larvae's growth while keeping the host's physiology blissfully unaware of the danger lurking within.
  4. The larva excretes a parahormone that stimulates the host's appetite, then absorbs the resultant nutrients to fuel its own growth cycle.
  5. Once the parasite has grown to the appropriate stage, it devours the host from within, emerging from its cocoon as a full-fledged adult.

Notes: Stage five is observed during Dr. Barnaby's death scene. The wasp induced "crazed" convulsions and seemed to cause a lot of havoc in its victim.

Dead Rising[]

ACG Wasp-DR1

An adult Queen in Dead Rising.

Queens are first encountered by Frank West inside the warehouse around 6 pm. Before it can sting Frank, he swats it out of the air and stomps on it, causing all the surrounding zombies to immediately die. After this, Queens can be found anywhere on certain zombies and can be used to kill large groups of zombies. These zombies stand in the same spot and move their arms in the air, almost like they are yawning, and will sometimes throw up blood (stunning Frank if he comes in contact with it), then will fall to the ground and their heads will literally explode. Zombies that have a Queen attached to them are immune to its effects. When Frank drinks a nectar juice, a Queen will automatically be attracted, and Queen zombies become more common. The Queen can be picked as if an ordinary weapon and will be stored in a jar which can then be thrown at the ground near Frank or in the distance.

The Queens will not harm Frank. However at night, the Queen larvae, which are glowing green, that come out of the zombies killed using the Queen will jump at Frank, barely causing any damage. This new aggression and activity is likely connected to why Zombies are stronger and more aggressive at night.

Queen Larvae-DR1

Queen Larva in Dead Rising.

At one point, Kent Swanson tries to use a Queen larvae on a captured survivor so that he can photograph the exact moment a human becomes a zombie, but is stopped by Frank. It is shown that the larva is rather large, easily filling a person's hand, with a white body, segmented back, and a black, featureless head embedded in a ring of white flesh. It has no legs, no mouth, green blood, and glows bright bioluminescent green at night, as well as being much more aggressive than they are normally.

A large dose of hormone harvested from corpus allatum of several adult Queens, specifically ten, are used by Isabela to formulate a drug that temporarily suppresses the growth of the parasitic larvae in an infected person's blood and stall the zombification process, which is based on an earlier version of the drug that was created when Carlito tasked her to research a method to suppress the parasite. She explains that when the drug was first made, she and Carlito did not extract the hormone directly, but instead synthesized it in a lab. She used this drug on Frank using some improvised equipment after the Special Forces invade and the survivors escape the mall. This would lead to the creation of what would soon become Zombrex. Isabela also uses the remains of the captured Queens to isolate a pheromone that suppresses the attack instinct in adult parasites, repelling zombies as they "don't like the smell". When inside the Clocktower Tunnels, Frank must hold hands with Isabela so that the repellent affects both of them, as she only has enough for one that she holds to protect herself.

Carlito's initial plan for the Queens was to infect the town of Willamette as revenge against the U.S. for both creating the zombies and destroying his people and hometown out of gluttony and covering-up the serious crimes committed to absolve themselves of involvement, either declaring Santa Cabeza to be the location of drug smuggling terrorists or outright denying the town's existence. Willamette was most likely chosen by Carlito due to the presence of Dr. Barnaby, the head scientist performing the Queen experiments, and his continued research into the Queens in his secret lab. However, although his plan was successful, upon driving Isabela away and becoming cornered by Frank and Brad Garrison, Carlito initiated his "Last Resort": flooding the area below the Willamette mall with flammable gas then detonating it with five timed-explosives. The explosion would not only kill his opponents, but also send parasitic larvae into the stratosphere and atmosphere, spreading them across the country and causing zombie outbreaks throughout the entire US.

Carlito ordered Isabela to make the suppressant drug as part of his contingency revenge plan, should his other plans fail, with his Infected Orphans: fifty orphans from Santa Cabeza, products of the U.S. soldiers raping local women before the zombie outbreak. Carlito infected them with the parasite but also gave them the zombie-suppression drug Isabela created, before using a Non-Profit Organization he had started, that was dedicated to helping war orphans, to find new homes for them across the United States. These children were zombie "time-bombs" that, depending on their individual physiologies, would transform at random into zombies once the suppressant wore off, starting outbreaks all over the country. However, not wanting to make something completely unstoppable, he made one orphan immune to the parasite so a proper vaccine was possible.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero[]

Queens are first encountered by Chuck as he exits the scrapyard for the second time after he returns the bike chassis. Before it can sting Chuck, he swats it out of the air and steps on it, which was followed immediately by the zombies surrounding him dying. After this, Queens can be found anywhere on certain zombies. The Queen is exactly the same as the first game, but is slightly larger, and has a blur to it when it moves.

Zombrex has also since become commercially-available to the public, created and sold by Phenotrans, with the drug being both incredibly expensive and hard to find. However, the drug is still experimental despite this, and has to be taken once every 12 hours, within an hour-period of the prescribed time. Taking Zombrex earlier than prescribed is lethal, though whether this means dying or turning into a Zombie is unknown.

Dead Rising 2[]

ACG Wasp-DR2

An adult Queen in Dead Rising 2.

Chuck first encounters a Queen after administering Katey's second dose of Zombrex. He immediately swats it and the Queen falls half dead to the ground. He then steps on it and the heads of the nearby zombies explode. The formula for Zombrex has also been refined to prevent Zombification for a full 24 hours instead of the original 12, and though it commonly is given via injections, it does also come in a lesser-known pill form.

In Dead Rising 2, the need for Queens are the reason for the Fortune City and Las Vegas outbreaks, since the outbreaks were started to extract Queens from the zombies in order to meet rising demands and maintain a consistent production of Zombrex, which needs Queens to be created. All for Phenotrans to keep infected individuals from turning, especially "[the] country's best" like doctors, politicians, and CEOs. Furthermore, a gas compound that lead to the creation of the mutated Gas Zombies was developed by Phenotrans to speed up the maturity of Queens for faster harvesting, in order to make Zombrex quicker to keep up with the country's supply-and-demand. Absorption of the gas was at 80% ideal predictions, and lead to maturation rates for Queens being 10 times greater than normal.

Dead Rising 2: Case West[]

Chuck Greene and Frank West, upon investigating a Phenotrans facility west of Fortune City, discover a massive complex built for the harvesting, containment, research, and shipment of zombies and Queens. Chuck also helps Frank discover proof that not only were Phenotrans responsible for the Fortune City outbreak, but the company still harvests and uses Queens in the production of Zombrex, as both Frank and the public had been told that Zombrex is made synthetically in a lab and Queens had been phased out. They also discover records of Missing Person Reports and prisoner lists, coming to the realization that, in between Outbreak harvests, Phenotrans kidnaps the homeless, prison inmates and regular civilians that are claimed to be missing only to turn them into Zombies in order to maintain Zombrex production, and that they start Outbreaks whenever they either run out of these people or Zombrex demand exceeds Queen supply.

They eventually discover that Frank's source is Isabela Keyes, who has been coerced into working for Phenotrans under threat of imprisonment. She has been trying to create a synthetic alternative to Queens, presumably using her and Carlito's knowledge in synthetically making the Queens hormone for a much earlier version of the suppression drug that would become Zombrex. However, Phenotrans stole her research and prevented her from succeeding. She has also been close to finding a cure for the Zombies. Marian Mallon claims to Frank and Chuck that, using Isabela's notes, Phenotrans has been able to create this cure years ago, and that Marian no longer needed Zombrex, but Phenotrans refuses to release it publicly. She states that humans are not worthy of the cure because of their greed and apathy that created the Zombies, and the human race deserves the zombie apocalypse, and berates the two for destroying a facility that produces the medicine for them and their loved ones.

Although Chuck is despondent that they could not get the cure Marian talked about, Frank believes that Marian was lying about them having a cure. Frank would be proven to be correct in the next game, Dead Rising 3, and that Marian had lied about Phenotrans having a cure and refusing to reveal it to the public, as well as about how she didn't need Zombrex.

Dead Rising 3[]

ACG Wasp-DR3

An adult Queen in Dead Rising 3.

While delivering a body of a girl to his client, Gary Finkel shows Nick Ramos what happens to zombies when a nearby Queen gets killed: their heads explode.

The Government has since invented the Zombrex microchip, a device implanted in registered infected civilians that periodically and automatically administers Zombrex, which the Government has made a mandated-law to be registered and microchipped. If a Zombrex chipped or Z-Chipped individual does become a zombie, the chip would then notify the authorities and track their location by GPS so that the person can be dealt with to prevent a mass outbreak. Some unregistered people, known as Illegals, refuse to get Z-Chipping and still rely on daily Zombrex injections, as they believe the Chips turn people into "prisoners" and remove their privacy due to the GPS in them making their location monitored at all times, preferring to live off-the-grid, and some even believe that the Zombrex Chips don't actually work, leaving people still at risk of becoming xombies.

Queen Larvae-DR3

Queen worm in Dead Rising 3.

Another part of the parasite's life cycle is shown in the form of large, segmented white-with-black-ringed worm creatures with lamprey mouths that squirm under the bodies of infected people that have yet to turn into Zombies, causing skin bulges and itching. These worm creatures are not elaborated on, but are lightly implied to be the post-larva stage/mutated larva of the Queens, as they are more aggressive and look different to the larva shown in the original Dead Rising. They are shown able to be harvested and used by John Hemlock and Marian Mallon, and can be used to turn people into Zombies instantly by force-feeding them, which is what they do with President Sonya Paddock so they can film her and allow Hemlock to take emergency control of the government.

Nick and Diego Martinez are at one point kidnapped and preempt to be experimented on by Marian and Hemlock's forces, with Diego being exposed to a laser that will fully grow the parasite within his body, in order to test to see if he is was the member of Carlito's Infected Orphans that contains the cure to the zombie plague within him. However, as he didn't, it caused his body to burst open from the swarm of Queens and worms escaping his body, horrifically spreading and infecting the nearby soldiers alongside the lab technicians they served, killing Diego in the process. It is revealed that Nick is the one that Carlito made immune to the zombie plague, shown earlier when a zombie bite he suffered quickly healed within a day. Isabella, when she first meets Nick, explains that this is because the Queens' worms cannot live inside of Nick's body.

King Zombies are mutated variants of the Zombies due to the unique radiation used to turn off people's Zombrex microchips. Becoming living, walking hives for dozens, if not hundreds of Queens which they can control and direct for various uses, such as increasing the aggression and durability of nearby zombies. Hemlock planned to use these special zombies and the "royal jelly" they produced to create an all-new biological weapon to spread across the United States so as to enforce his martial law agenda.

Dead Rising 4[]

Mutated Queen Swarm

A swarm of mutated Queens.

During the events of Dead Rising 4, both a cure and a vaccine has been created to make humans immune to the parasite and the virus they carry. However, an older strain of the virus from Santa Cabeza, immune to the Ramos Vaccine and Zombrex, resurfaces to allow the parasite to make zombies and terrorize the population once again. Furthermore, Obscuris has secretly been running zombie experiments by making clones and infecting them to study the infection and modifying the undead; making them stronger, faster, smarter, and speeding up the rate of zombification from days to seconds, in hope of creating mass-produced, cheap, immortal labor.

In addition, Barnaby's old machinery in Willamette lead to both the Second Outbreak, and the creation of mutated Queens responsible for Calder, whom begat a new undead variant called the Evolved Zombie that were the result of Barnaby's failed attempts at immortality; maintaining the tireless, ageless, illness-proof body of a zombie but without the decay, bestial hunger, and lack of intelligence that comes with reanimation.


  • In real life, Ampulex Compressa is the taxonomic name of the Emerald Cockroach Wasp. They are native to South Asia and the Pacific Islands but were accidentally introduced to South America, becoming an invasive species.