Still curious? Read more: Zombies!
Zombies aren’t just in the movies. There’s a world of plants and animals that take control of other species, turning them into mindless slaves …
- As an ant forages for food, it might ingest some spores of a parasitic fungus,Ophiocordyceps unilateralis.
- The ant starts a drunken walk, then climbs away from its fellow ants up a tree or blade of grass.
- The ant chomps down to stay in place, and is unable to release its jaws from this death grip.
- The fungus kills the ant from the inside, and the fruiting body sprouts out of its head.
- The fungus releases spores onto the ground below … and the cycle begins again.
While ants seem to be the most prone to being controlled by parasites, they’re not the only ones. Other creatures that can lose their minds include crickets, wasps, spiders, cockroaches and mice. But it’s not all bad. Parasitic fungi help to maintain the balance of ecosystems, supporting biological diversity.