I’ve been sitting here trying to get some inspiration for writing, and decided to go to The Featured Creature, which I mentioned in a post yesterday. I was looking at the Euonymus Leaf Notcher, which led me to a post about Arsenura caterpillars, which led me to… Wait for it… Zombie ants.
You heard that right, zombie ants. Apparently, there’s this freaky, scary fungus called Ophiocordyceps, which can infect ants, root into their brains and control them. It somehow guides them to a prime breeding ground, then causes the ant to bite down on the plant or whatever it may be so hard that it can’t move. The ant then dies and the fungus can grow and produce spores.
You can read all about it here: Zombie Ant Fungus, complete with some rather disturbing pictures. This fungus doesn’t only infect ants though, it can also get to flies, wasps and crickets. It gives me the willies to think of a fungus that can mind control an insect. Does anyone else see this spinning off into a creepy horror about mold creating human zombies after the government tries to use it to create mind-controlled soldiers? Somebody’s gonna go there, just you wait and see.
I’ve got to say, as much as I love nature, it creeps me out sometimes. The more we learn the weirder it seems to get. I mean, who would have guessed that there was mind controlling fungus? Of course, if you want weird and creepy, you can always look up the breeding habits of Anglerfish. That one was so out there that the Oatmeal did a comic about it. (I actually went to The Oatmeal’s FaceBook page and suggested he do a comic about zombie ants. I bet it would be hysterical.)
If you ever need something to take you away from the doldrums of the day, go look up some of the freaky stuff that happens in nature. If nothing else it will mess with your head for a while and you’ll forget that you were bored. [smiles]