SICK!: Fly Turns Ants Into Zombie Nurseries

May 13, 2009

zombie ants.jpg

The phorid fly turns fire ants into zombies by laying eggs inside them. When the larvae hatch, they eat their way to the ant's brain, which they also eat, leaving the fiery bastards to wander around like zombies before dying. Sick.

"At some point, the ant gets up and starts wandering," said Rob Plowes, a research associate at UT.

The maggot eventually migrates into the ant's head, but Plowes said he "wouldn't use the word 'control' to describe what is happening. There is no brain left in the ant, and the ant just starts wandering aimlessly. This wandering stage goes on for about two weeks."

About a month after the egg is laid, the ant's head falls off and the fly emerges ready to attack any foraging ants away from the mound and lay eggs.

ZOMG -- it's head falls off. That reminds me of the time I was getting it on with a velociraptor when my parents came home early so I tried stuffing him in the closet but accidentally slammed the door closed on his neck and his head fell off. I buried it in the backyard, but I kept the body. What? It's okay if it's a dinosaur!

Hit the jump for a video of the flies in action (first video) as well as another of what jewel wasps do to cockroaches (same concept of zombification, but with a completely different method (read: injecting venom straight into the brain)).

Parasitic flies turn fire ants into zombies [yahoonews]

Thanks to STOMPY, not stompy, Chuck Nunchuck, Logan, Josh, Allison, Nathaniel and Shane, who once ate fried fire ants in South America and found them appetizing. But not filling!

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