Parasitic Fungus Turns Cicadas Into 'Zombie Honey Traps', Scientists Say

While the scientists did manage to identify some of the chemicals in the fungus, the exact mechanism that the organism employs to control its hosts is yet to be explained.

Researchers studying a parasitic fungus called Massospora, which uses cicadas to reproduce and spread, have revealed the insidious tactic this organism implements to make insects do its bidding, Live Science reports.

The scientists managed to establish that the fungus not only “eats away” at its host’s abdomen while keeping the insect alive, its active host transmission (AHT) phase involves it compelling the infected male cicadas to flick their wings in a particular way, mimicking the motions females use to attract mates; healthy insects who get lured in this manner then attempt to mate with the infected cicadas and become infected themselves.

The team also points out that while they did identify “some of the chemicals in Massospora fungus”, the exact mechanism its spores use to control their hosts are yet to be explained.

She added that “it is almost certain that there are undiscovered Massospora species, never mind the other AHT (active host transmission) fungi, and each of these will have developed its own intimate connection with its host’s biology”.


Parasitic Fungus Turns Cicadas Into ‘Zombie Honey Traps’, Scientists Say

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