Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fungus turns ants into zombies

zombie ants
ANT COLONIZED: A mature O. unilateralis growing from an ant it has killed a few weeks before. The "P" points out the perithecial plates where spores are released.
The Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus infects Camponotus leonardi ants that live in tropical rainforest trees. Once infected, the spore-possessed ant will climb down from its normal habitat and bite down, with what the authors call a "death grip" on a leaf and then die. But the story doesn’t end there.

Great outcome for the ant. It has a mushroom growing out of its head. And it's dead.

Nature is an amazing place, but it 'aint a nice one in many ways.

It is just chock-a-block full of similar horror stories. And yes, truly amazing and wonderful things, but gee it makes me wonder about the dewy-eyed "All Things Bright and Beautiful" adulation of nature that goes on these days.

Chiefly I suspect by city-dwelling people who in reality know and understand little about it.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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