The Cordyceps Fungus Turns Insects into Zombies

Nature is fascinating. It can be the source of amazing beauty, but it can also be incredibly terrifying.

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Source: ZOL

The cordyceps fungus falls in the category of terrifying—it literally makes zombies. But don’t run and hide just yet – there is a bit of good news. The cordyceps fungus (in all its variations) only attacks insects.

Source: Ian Suzuki
Source: Miltonius

A Real Control Freak

We weren’t kidding about the zombie part. The cordyceps fungus invades its insect host and starts by consuming non-vital organs, and that’s just the warm-up. Next, it spreads to muscles and the brain, where it gains control of the insect’s body.

Source: Susanne Sourell
Source: Mycoshop.net

Zombie-fication ensues when a cocktail of mind controlling chemicals is released that hijacks the nervous system, forcing it to do the bidding of the fungus.

Source: Bernard Dupont
Source: Miltonius

Ultimate Breeding Ground for Fungus

Under the fungus’ control, a zombie insect will climb up to an altitude optimum for spore growth. This shell of a body clamps onto a leaf while being consumed from the inside out, turning it into a breeding ground for more fungus spores.

Source: Kotaku