Just when you thought it was safe to go back out in the yard your worst nightmare has arrived. Picnics will never be the same.
Yes folks it is the time of the zombie ant.
Okay, all kidding aside this is just freaky but scientists have discovered that there really is an ant that for all intents and purposes becomes a zombie when infected with a specific type of fungus, or rather four new kinds of the Cordyceps fungus.
Now this isn’t really going to happen in your backyard unless of course your backyard happens to be in Brazil which is where this type of fungus is found.
Apparently once the fungi has infected the ant the insect stops acting like an ant and leave the colony whereupon they climb into trees which is where they die. Interestingly these ‘zombie’ ants are always attracted to the areas of a tree which is best suited to the fungi in order that it can reproduce.
As part of their armory in their quest to reproduce the fungi have some interesting, albeit a little unnerving, methods to infect other ants.
Of the four new species, two grow long, arrow-like spores which eject like missiles from the fungus, seeking to land on a passing ant. The other fungi propel shorter spores, which change shape in mid-air to become like boomerangs and land nearby. If these fail to land on an ant, the spores sprout stalks that can snag ants walking over them. Upon infecting the new ant, the cycle starts again.
If that isn’t enough to have you running for an ax or some type of insect killer check out this video courtesy of Geekosystem