Zombie cicadas: The mind-controlling fungus infecting insects like an STD – CNET

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Remarkably, the fungal-infected cicadas not only attempt to mate however they also set about their normal pest activities although a big part of their bodies has actually been eliminated and taken over by spores.
” If one of our limbs were taken out or if our stomach was slashed open, we would most likely be disabled,” study co-author Matthew Kasson told CNN on Monday. “But infected cicadas, despite the reality that a 3rd of their body has fallen off, continue to go about their activities like mating and flying as if nothing happened. This is truly, really unique for insect-killing fungi.”.

While this new study focuses on Massospora, there are other fungus parasites out there that also manage their insect hosts as if they were zombies..
” Zombie ant fungi” called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is a fungal parasite primarily discovered in tropical forests. For as much as 10 days, the fungal parasite continues to grow inside the ants body till it ultimately pierces through the ants head, and launches deadly fungal spores that will then infect more ants..
Previously, scientists believed the zombie ant fungus used the ants brain to guide its movements. However in a new paper, the research study now shows the parasite surrounds the ants muscle fibers, not the brain, to control the bugs body..

Massospora, a parasitic fungus, controls male cicadas into snapping their wings like women to contaminate unsuspecting male cicadas..
Angie Macias/WVU.

The way Massospora fungus spores attack cicadas seems like a horror film. The spores eat away at the cicadas back, abdomen, and even its genitals, where they transfer even more fungal spores for the cicada to send to other cicadas like an STD..
The cicadas body parts “use away like an eraser on a pencil,” research study co-author Brian Lovett stated in a statement on July 27.
Heres a better take a look at the Massospora– cicada infection cycle.
Brian Lovett/PLoS Pathogens.
The brand-new research study concentrates on the uncommon sexual behavior of the infected cicadas. While contaminated cicadas can no longer mate since their backsides are taken control of by the fungi, the cicadas still try to mate to sexually send the fungi to healthy cicadas.
The research study discusses that the fungus manipulates male cicadas to move their wings so that they mimic women mating signals so they can also contaminate other healthy male cicadas with the fungi.
” Essentially, the cicadas are luring others into ending up being infected since their healthy equivalents have an interest in breeding,” Lovett stated. “The bioactive substances may control the insect to stay awake and continue to transfer the pathogen for longer.”.

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Get out your 2020 bingo card and check package for zombie bugs. Simply when you thought murder hornets were the worst thing to give us nightmares this year, scientists have just recently found a new cicada population contaminated by a parasitic fungus that manages their minds and forces them to infect other insects.
A fungus called Massospora infects the cicadas and ends up controlling the bugs in an uncommon way. The fungus has chemicals like the ones discovered in hallucinogenic mushrooms that can control the cicadas behavior, according to a brand-new study written by researchers from West Virginia University, released by PLOS Pathogens.