Friday, 16 June 2017

Insect Walking Dead: How a Fungus Turns Beetles into Killer Zombies

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | June 15, 2017 07:11am ET 

A fungus worthy of its own horror film is on the loose, taking over the bodies of goldenrod soldier beetles and turning them into contagious zombies that can infect their beetle brethren, a new study finds.

The fungus has a creepy but foolproof modus operandi: About two weeks after it infects the goldenrod soldier beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus), it orders the beetle to climb up a plant and clamp its mandibles around a flower.

Then, the beetle dies, swinging like a scarecrow from the flower and giving the fungus ample opportunity to infect nearby beetles, said study lead investigator Donald Steinkraus, a professor of entomology at the University of Arkansas.

Steinkraus first spotted these bizarre, zombie-like beetles on a research farm in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He remembers seeing hundreds of yellow-and-black soldier beetles on a patch of blooming wild asters. The beetles were eating pollen and mating — "the flowers were sort of like a dating site that also offered food," Steinkraus told Live Science in an email.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails