You have probably heard of the Ophiocordyceps fungus that affects ants… it takes over the brain of the ant, and makes it climb high into a tree-top, adhere itself to a leaf or twig, and die. A horn-like protuberance then sprouts from the head of the ant – one that holds spores that are then released to fall to the forest floor, to begin the morbid life-cycle again.
If the name Ophiocordyceps sounds familiar to gamers– it’s also the killer fungus used as the mechanism of destruction in the best-selling game The Last of Us.
So this zombie ant fungus “knows” its host, and only releases brain-controlling chemicals when it finds itself attached to its preferred ant species, according to a new study.
Parasitic fungi from the genus Ophiocordyceps – also known as the “zombie ant fungus” – control their ant hosts by inducing a biting behavior. Although these fungi can infect many different types of insects, they prefer a certain kind of ant in particular, and wait to attack until they find such a desirable host.
The fungus exerts mind control, making one wonder, what other parasite can affect the mind… not only of ants, but human.
We are getting closer and closer to understanding the SCOURGE which infects us.