Watch A Killer Fungus Turn Flies Into Zombies
Imagine a small creature sneaking into your food and managing to get into your body. It takes over your brain and central nervous system, growing and reproducing inside you until it finally kills you and uses your remains to spread. Scary, right? Well, that’s exactly what happens to these flies: a fungus gets into their brain, takes control of their body, and kills them.
The science and other stuff to know
The Entomophthora muscae fungus lives on the warm, nutritious skin of fruits and vegetables, patiently waiting to be ingested by a fruit fly to carry out its macabre plan. Immediately after the fly picks up a fungal spore, everything seems normal. The fungus spends the first few days feeding on the insect’s fat reserves.
On the fourth or fifth day, fungus manipulates the fly, causing it to behave unusually: it climbs to a high place and drools a kind of sticky glue that seems to paralyze it. It no longer has an escape. After it dies, its body quickly swells, and the spores begin to sprout in threadlike structures. Scientists suggest that the fungus causes the fly to raise its wings in order to spread its spores. Also, if the insect sticks to a high surface, the spores could be dispersed by the wind, allowing it to spread even farther.
Thankfully, these killer fungi are harmless to humans. We could even use them as a potential pest control tool in vegetable crops.