News Article

News Article

Mind-Controlling Spores Turn Ants Into Zombies

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If you've been following our tales of skin-crawling terror from the microscopic world, then you know that the domain of insects, arachnids, microbes and other tiny creatures is overflowing with the most depraved scenarios you could ever imagine. In the case of this parasitic fungus, the story involves mind-controlling alien spores, zombies and exploding heads.
 
Zombie_Ant1
Photo: David P. Hughes
 
According to Live Science, experts are still baffled as to how a fungus called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis can take command of an ant's brain, turning it into one of the walking dead and guiding it to the perfect spot to spread more spores... which it does by exploding out of the ant's body.
 
A 2009 study published in American Naturalist revealed that the ants, once infected by the fungus, will journey precisely toward certain plants near the forest floor – a location where the conditions are best for the fungus to reproduce – and even latch onto the leaves just before dying, in order to provide a secure spot for the fungus to spread. This is all happening while the fungus is busy digesting the ant from the inside out.
 
Zombie_Ant2
Photo: David P. Hughes
 
Once the spores burst out of the ant's hollow corpse, they drop to the forest floor, infecting more victims... and the gruesome cycle continues.
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