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Scientists have discovered cicadas in the US state of West Virginia infected with a parasitic fungus that controls their minds and forces them to infect other insects.

"Zombie" cicadas are infected with Massospora, a fungus that contains chemicals such as those found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, according to a new study published by PLOS Pathogens. the fungus of other specimens during the mating process. While almost a third of their bodies are replaced by fungal tissue, infected cicadas continue to survive without being aware that they have been parasitised. The reason is because the fungus manipulates the behaviour of the insects to keep the hosts alive.

"If we were left without one of our limbs or our stomach was cut off, we probably wouldn't be able to move," said Matthew Kasson, co-author of the study. "But infected cicadas, despite the fact that a third of their bodies have been parasitized, can still fly or mate with other specimens, as if nothing had happened. This is truly unique to mushrooms that kill insects."

According to the study, the parasitic fungus even manipulates male crickets to flutter their wings by mimicking the female's invitation to mate, so they can infect other male insects.

Researchers believe that sexual transmission of the fungus is the easiest way to spread Massospora, but these insects can come into contact with the pathogen in other ways. "When they fly or walk on branches, they spread spores that way," Kasson explained.

Despite the fact that the existence of an "army of zombie cicadas" sounds terrifying, Kasson gave assurances that infected insects are not a danger to humans. What do you think?

Would you be afraid of these insects? Do you really think they are not dangerous to us?

Tell us in the comments below!

Influence your world,

Toluna Team


  2 months ago
Nature is so fascinating!


  2 months ago
We should not be afraid especially if there is no insect to human transmissions. What counts most is the prevention and extra cautious not only for this issue but also for the current COVID-19.


  2 months ago
I think that every insect could be dangerous for a human body. Maybe we should not be afraid but we should be careful.

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