(ORDO NEWS) — The extent of the insect infestation is not yet clear. Researchers in the United States have discovered a new population of cicadas that are infected with a parasitic fungus. He controls their minds and forces them to infect other insects, CNN reports.
In a study published in PLOS Pathogens, scientists refer to these insects as “zombie cicadas.” They are influenced by the fungus Massospora, which contains chemicals similar to those found in hallucinogenic mushrooms.
The fungus affects the abdominal cavity of the cicada. The insect then spreads the spores, infecting its fellows.
It is noteworthy that a sick cicada loses the ability to mate, but at the same time, under the influence of the fungus, it continues to imitate mating behavior in order to attract a couple and thereby infect it.
The first infected cicadas were found in June in West Virginia. Since cicada larvae can spend up to 17 years underground, it will be a long time before the extent of the infection is understood, the researchers say.
Infected cicadas pose no danger to humans.
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