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Zombie cicada: Strange fungus Turning insects hyper-sexual

Despite the bugs' lack of danger to humans, scientists fear a manipulative, behavior-changing fungus will turn some of them into zombie cicadas.

By Newsd
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 zombie cicada: This spring, two broods of cicadas will emerge from the ground during certain cyclical periods.

Cicada broods emerge in specific geographic regions at regular intervals, usually every 13 or 17 years.

During this spring, both 13-year and 17-year broods will emerge from the ground, arriving in parts of the United States in unprecedented numbers.

Although cicadas can be loud and may be considered a nuisance by some people because of their distinctive buzzing and clicking sounds, they do not pose a direct threat to humans.

There is no evidence that these insects transmit disease to humans, nor do they sting or bite.

Despite the bugs’ lack of danger to humans, scientists fear a manipulative, behavior-changing fungus will turn some of them into zombie cicadas.

What is a zombie cicada?

Cicadas emerge from the soil with the goal of reproducing, but the Massospora cicadina attacks them and takes over their bodies and behavior.

During insects’ lives, spores of this fungus can enter their bodies, and a mass of spores grows inside their abdomens.

The fungus causes the cicada’s backside to erupt, causing a chalky, white plug to appear, replacing a third of the insect’s body.

According to National Geographic, the disemboweled cicadas will fly around and spores will fall off just like a saltshaker tip, earning them the nickname “saltshakers of death”.

The fungus manipulates the behavior of insects, causing them to become hypersexualized, even though they are no longer able to reproduce. Infected male bugs will try to mate with females by pretending to be females.

Due to the spores, the cicada changes its behavior in order to spread the fungus to other cicada species.

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