Possessed zombie wasps with fungus stalks coming out of their brains have been found by wildlife experts in the US.
The parasitical fungus – which locks a victim’s jaws around a twig -takes over the movements of the wasp until it has devoured them from the inside.
These images show one of the wasps with the weird tentacle-like protrusions coming out of it after its brain was taken over.
The startling images were obtained from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division along with a statement saying: “While scouting in Fayette County, Mr. Appling’s keen woodsman’s eye spotted this neat example of nature’s wild ways. You see here a wasp that was a victim of cordyceps fungi infection…. see the way it’s grasping the twig?”
Like something out of science fiction, the Wildlife Division added: “The fungus made him do it. Cordyceps is a type of parasitic fungus that infects the insect’s brain and orchestrates its movements. The fungus then sprouts from the insect’s body, produces spores, and thereby is ready to live on by infecting passing insects in the future.”
It is unclear where exactly in Alabama the images were taken, but the Wildlife Division added: “There are thousands of species of cordyceps, each specialized for a particular species of insect! Yet another way that populations are kept in check… Mr. Appling out there doing his part. Cordyceps doing its part. What an amazing system.”
Cordyceps include approximately 600 different species of fungi, most of them found in Asia, and with most of them being parasites that targets insects, as well as arthropods (animals with exoskeletons like scorpions or some caterpillars). Some even target other types of fungi.
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