The Zombie Ant: A Tiny TerrorPublished May 11, 2011
Flickr user AJC1
Much to the horror of ants living in the Brazilian rainforest, scientists have recently discovered there are four mind-controlling fungi that turn ants into zombies. The fungi manipulate their brains to control their behavior, and then kill them.
But once infected by fungi spores, the ant leaves the nest and finds a small shrub, then starts climbing. According to a recent report in “Wired Science” the fungi direct all ants to the same kind of leaf, about 25 centimeters above the ground and at a precise angle to the sun. It is still a mystery precisely how the fungi do this.
The “mind-controlled” ants anchor themselves to the leaf before dying by clamping their jaws on the edge or a vein on the leaf's underside. It is then that the fungi take over, transforming the ant carcass into a spore-producing factory, from which it feeds off for almost a year, additionally using it as a platform from which it launches its spores.
I find it fascinating and a bit chilling that while you are reading this story, a mini horror show is occurring in the rainforest in Brazil. In fact, I feel a bit sorry for these unsuspecting little creatures.
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