Two Fascinating Articles About Insects

I’ve come across two incredibly fascinating articles in the last week, both involving insects. My jaw dropped while reading both, and I can’t recommend them enough.

The first is about how some Brood X cicadas will become infected with a psilocybin-related fungus that makes their butts fall off.

I swear to you: every other paragraph, I was saying “Wait, what?” out loud. Over and over again. The details are fascinating, but the writing is just icing on the cake [via MetaFilter]:

A fungus laced with the same chemical as psychedelic mushrooms will invade their bodies and eat away their insides until their abdomens crack, fall off and get replaced with a ball of white spores. Because they’re either bombed on psilocybin or under the control of the fungus in some other way, the cicadas won’t even notice. With missing butts and full hearts, they’ll forge ahead with their only reason for existing: finding a mate and reproducing.

The next article is about ants who (when also infected with a parasite) end up living extraordinarily long lives. Most of the parasite articles I read involve the infected insect suffering some really terrible fate. But in this instance, the infected ants seem to fare better than their non-infect counterparts.

In fact, the infected ants live 3x longer than their counterparts, allowing them to exist in excess of a decade.

The infected ants looked younger, remained younger, and ended up doing less work than everyone else [via Metafilter]:

The tapeworm-laden ants didn’t just outlive their siblings, the team found. They were coddled while they did it. They spent their days lounging in their nest, performing none of the tasks expected of workers. They were groomed, fed, and carried by their siblings, often receiving more attention than even the queen—unheard of in a typical ant society—and gave absolutely nothing in return.

The interesting premise: the infected ants didn’t suffer any ill effecst; but the colony overall suffered negatively, due to a certain population not doing its share.

In the short span of a week, two fascinating articles to check out. Both are very much worth your time.

[photo via Shannon Potter]

Wasp vs. Cockroach
The Best Article You’ve Ever Read About Sea Slugs

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave A Reply