Insect parasites are like a box of chocolates…

Insects are among the most abundant lifeforms on earth, so it’s not very surprising that their parasites are equally abundant. And those parasites take many, many forms – most awesomely disgusting and terrifying.

First in today’s parasite buffet, courtesy of my most excellent friend Sam, is a tasty red berry! Oh, wait, that’s actually an ant. A newly discovered nematode alters the color of its host-ant’s abdomen, making it look like a ripe, delicious berry. As if that isn’t enough, the nematode also makes the ant wave its tasty abdomen in the air (normally a defense posture) and makes the ant taste better by suppressing the ant’s defensive chemicals. Birds eat the ant and poop out the parasite, the ants collect the bird poop & feed it to their larvae, and the cycle begins anew.

Next is Cordyceps, a fungus that can control bugs’ brains. Insects infected with Cordyceps have an uncontrollable urge to climb high up a plant and clamp their jaws tight. The fungus then eats their brain and sporulates out of their head. You really MUST watch this video for the time-lapse zombie-fungus-brain-eating sequences.

Finally, please enjoy hipsters driven mad by the natural world. Cracked.com features The 5 Most Horrifying Insects in the World. It’s the most hysterical (insane, not funny) article I think I’ve ever read – the entire piece reads like one primal scream. I don’t know why they’re so frightening – after all, they left out the bat-eating Amazonian Giant Centipede (video, with Davd Attenborough to soothe you).

Don’t worry. At least it’s not like you’ve got any mind-controlling parasites.

Photo from Neurophilosphy, some links from Metafilter.

About these ads

5 Responses to Insect parasites are like a box of chocolates…

  1. Justin says:

    Wow, great post with a delightful set of links…I found it all fascinating. Keep up the good work. I read your blog everyday, great content!

    I wonder why the beetle which spurts a boiling mixture of chemicals from its read end did not make the list….so many scary insects…so little time. And why do they all live in the Amazon? What happened there to make all the insects so tempermental?

    Have a good one…

  2. I’m really glad you enjoyed it – someone who calls a brain-eating parasitic fungus “delightful” is definitely my target audience. :>)

    The reason that so many of the scary poisonous insects live in the Amazon is because tropical rain forests have lots of food but also lots of predation. A huge body size and secondary defenses like poison are metabolically expensive to maintain, so you need lots of food (which you can get in year-round warmth) and sufficient motivation (as in, immediate death if you’re undefended).

  3. wetlandstom says:

    You get and A+ for this post. Really neat information, an videos.

    Tom

  4. al-rayyan says:

    way to go….

  5. Exceptional factors listed here. I’m able to go to your publish. Appreciate it a great deal and i’m waiting for effect an individual. Are you going to i implore you to shed us a email?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: