The most interesting zombie parasites



Zombies are creatures from video games and horror films. People are frightened that a parasitic form of life can seize the host’s body, spreading farther and farther. It is not necessary to consider such a phenomenon only a figment of the fantasy of writers. This is a scientific reality, in the nature of zombie parasites can be found at times in the most unexpected places. For many of them, this way of life is the only way to survive and continue your race.

The most interesting zombie parasites


Strepsipterans.

Although there are quite a few strange insects in the world, the males of the Strepspiters stand out. These flying creatures the size of a mosquito, they have huge eyes and very developed sense organs. They live only a few hours. The life of males is devoted solely to one goal – the search for females for the purpose of copulation. However, this task is rather difficult, because the opposite sex has no limbs and eyes. This is essentially only a parasite body that lives in the body of other insects, such as flies, bees or mantis. Only the head of the female sticks out of the owner, which she pushes out to breathe. To find a male, the parasite releases special pheromones to the wind and forces its master to wait patiently in a convenient and accessible place. For example, at the tip of a long leaf or branch. Imagine what it’s like to stand patiently for several hours, while someone who lives in you, pulled his head from the back and flirts with men! In a few days the female will spew a bunch of live larvae on the next flower – an excellent place to infect the next victims.

The most interesting zombie parasites

Fish parasites.

For most fish, evasion from birds of prey is a natural occupation and a condition for their survival. In the throats of pelicans and other hunters, not so much is caught. Birds sit on a strict diet, their main prey is not a healthy and normal fish, but one that is influenced by parasitic worms. For example, sticklebacks, suffer from the solitary Schistocephalus solidus, which eventually grows so large that it makes the host plump and sluggish. The fish even change color, which makes its detection more easy. In the end, the host’s behavior also changes, it begins to float closer to the surface, where it falls into the beak of feathered predators. Worms feed the birds with fish, and the birds in turn help spread to rivers and lakes with the help of litter.

The most interesting zombie parasites

Gordian worm.

This worm is also known as “horse hair”. The reason is his mysterious appearance in horse troughs. He passes his parasitic larval stages in the organs of insects, especially he likes crickets. But the adult non-parasitic stage of the creatures passes in the aquatic environment. The crickets did not have the ability to swim, but the parasite is not a hindrance. When the worm grows up, it pushes its insect to look for the nearest pond and dive there. At this point, the cricket or grasshopper is already partially digested and zombified. An adult specimen of the worm emerges from the skeleton of its carrier and swims away to find its pair. The helpless insect itself is drowning. Each female of the worm lays up to 10 million eggs.

The most interesting zombie parasites

Cordyceps.

Cordyceps – a kind of fungi that develops in the organs of various insects. Each species has its own master, eventually the victim dies, turning itself into tiny mushrooms and releasing their disputes. To multiply better, many species take control of their victims shortly before the onset of fungal formation, penetrating as deeply as possible into the body so that the spores spread as far as possible. Infection is even tied to the ideal time of day to infect the preferred hosts. So, Cordyceps from a fly kills its prey at dawn, when the air is as pure and moist as possible. This contributes to the germination and introduction of the dispute into new victims.

The most interesting zombie parasites

Sacculina.

This crustacean from the detachment of the barnacles is actually a kindred to their masters, crabs. At one time the sacculine was taken for a fungus. The female begins its life in a microscopic stage, like a floating shrimp.However, she will give up 90% of her body when she finds the crab she needs. Sacculina attaches to the underside of the abdomen of the host and pierces it with thread-like processes that suck out all the juices from it. Over time, the sacculina opens a small hole so that the male can mate with it. If the owner is a female, then the larva of the new parasite is introduced into it. It will be harvested by the crab and fed inside it, spreading as if it were your own child. Even if the owner is a male, the sacculina in any case will transform his body and mind to perform female functions.

The most interesting zombie parasites

Leukohloridium.

This creature refers to ribbonworms. Leucochloridium lives in the body of the cochlea, but its life cycle ends in the body of the songbird. Feathers can not usually detect snails, since they are usually unappetizing and hide in the shade, but the parasite completely changes the behavior of its host. The snail tends to the open sun, its appearance changes, reminding something much more tasty. Leucochloridium forms bright pulsating outgrowths of its small larvae in the body of the cochlea, resembling fat striped caterpillars or larvae. Birds notice the bait, absorbing the parasite. Tentacles torn off from the cochlea will grow again over time, and new outgrowths will enter there. The worm falls into its natural environment, living in the cloaca or back of the bird. Over time, newer larvae spread along with the droppings, and the process is repeated again and again.

The most interesting zombie parasites

Ribeiroia.

This tapeworm can not boast full control over the mind of the master, but he has another feature – he perpetuates himself, turning his master into a monster. The victims are tadpoles and larval parasites, which eventually get a strange look. Solitaire interferes with the development of the tadpole in the frog, creating terrible deformations of the body. Infected animals can get additional limbs at the most unthinkable angles, which will make them difficult to move around. The purpose of the worm is simple – such a transformation of the host is necessary that it be eaten by predatory water-swamp birds, transferring the tapeworm and its offspring to the next pond. Lancet Fluke.

Unlike some other insects, which completely subordinate the ants, the fluke initially resides in the body of the cow, introducing its eggs into the feces of the host. Hot excrement attract snails, which eventually eat eggs and get infected with worms. The snails react to the larvae, spitting out them in clots of mucus. Such worm balls have a delicious smell, attracting passing ants. Being eaten by them, the worm waits for the night when the coolness comes, and the host’s strength is running out. The fluke causes the ant to rise to the tip of the blade of grass, raising its body in the air. This is the ideal place for an ant to swallow a cow, but what if it did not? The worm releases the ant from its control in the morning, without interfering with its normal normal life. At night, the master again loses power over the body. Pseudacteon fly-hump.

Although these flies are related to common harmless fruit flies breeding in fallen and forgotten fruits, they have a much more sinister appetite. The female lays its eggs in the body of a living ant. There, a tiny worm will eventually evolve, and it will go to the head of its master to eat his brain. However, this victim will not kill, although he will actually become dead. The insect simply begins to wander aimlessly for days, until his head just falls off the body. It is curious that the parasite forces the ant to go as far as possible from its home (up to 50 meters!), So that the relatives could not help the infected individual. The worm will use the severed head as a chamber for its pupation, turning into a fly and looking for a partner. Now, far from an anthill, a humpback, no one interferes.

The most interesting zombie parasites

Glyptapanteles.

There are many parasitic wasps, whose larvae develop in the bodies of other insects, especially caterpillars. Some “guests” can change the behavior of their hosts, but Glyptapanteles stands out even in this series. Like the case with other parasites, the female lays its eggs (up to 80 pieces) on the back of the caterpillar. Inside the insect, the larvae develop by feeding on a circulating fluid, but do not kill it. The larvae gnaw their way out, fixing themselves on the nearest branch and forming a cocoon. In part, the eaten caterpillar remains a pair of eggs, which continue to control the poor insects. The still living caterpillar remains in place, curving. She begins to guard the new house of wasps. So, with the appearance of bedbugs hunting just for the silken cocoons of wasps, the caterpillar begins to shake its head, dropping the aggressor from the branch or chasing it away. When the wasps-parasites complete their metamorphosis and come out of the cocoon, the zombie caterpillar will die from exhaustion and hunger.

The most interesting zombie parasites

Emerald cockroach withers (Ampulex Compressa).

In the tropics of Africa, India, the islands of the Pacific Ocean, you can meet these insects. Their method of zombification is original. The wasps sting the cockroach, so that he loses his will, but retains the ability to move independently. The wasp takes his prey by the antennae and transports it to his house. There she lays eggs on her unhappy insect on her abdomen and leaves in her burrow. Appeared larvae use a cockroach as their food, pupating then. Soon a new generation of wasps is born. Scientists have found that such a wasp stings twice – first to reduce resistance, and then a very accurate injection is made directly into the brain of the victim. The poison blocks chemical signals in the brain, giving rise to zombies.




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