‘Zombie Cicadas’ Covered in Mind-Controlling Fungus are Emerging
These zombie cicadas abdomens are missing. That space is replaced with drug-producing fungal spores. 2020 just got a whole more ridiculous.
This might be one of the strangest stories about nature I've ever heard. So this fungal infection that the periodical cicadas are getting, they're either catching it as the come out of the ground, or they get it by being tricked into mating with a cicada that already has the infection. The infection basically destroys most of their abdomen and replaces that empty space with fungal spores. And it gets much weirder from here.
You might be asking how the infected cicada can live without a large portion of its body. the answer is crazy. The fungus inside the cicada produces a bio-active compound. A bio-active compound is also what we call a drug. The drug produced is believed to manipulate a cicada's behavior.
In one species, the drug produced is psilocybin, which is the magic mushroom compound. And in these periodical cicadas, it’s producing amphetamines. And, before you think about getting high from eating one of these cicadas, you should know you'd have to eat a lot of them.
Listen to Brian Lovett, a Post Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at West Virginia University, talk about the zombie cicada.