We have been seeing a lot of movies about zombies and all of them are as interesting and enjoyable as each other. We have grown so much into these fantasies that on the social media, you can come across hashtags wondering if the apocalypse is approaching and that zombies are going to be involved. Well, movies have portrayed zombies in several different ways, but mainly we are all more familiar with the idea of zombies as the walking dead who eat other people, who are still alive, either killing them or transforming them into other zombies just like themselves. It seems like it is all fantasy and people are not really expecting any zombies to show up in our world any soon, but everyone just loves getting thrilled by this idea, however in a world different from ours, there are actual zombies. It is not a total different world, but they are totally different creatures that live on the very same planet of ours and they seem to be the most unloved creatures among us; insects.
Insects are freaky creatures that are living among us and surprisingly they present more than 80% of the planet, which means that the earth is actually theirs and we, humans, are just trivial creatures sharing their own planet with them. We should actually thank them for letting us stay here. Anyway, there are some insects that are known as the Zombie Insects, for they are insects in which fungus or a parasite inhabits and grows, controlling the insects’ normal behavior and leading them to kill themselves. Parasites and fungi seem to do this to their hosts for two reasons; they either protect the host, or make it more defenseless so the parasite is able to continue its life cycle in another species. It is weird that such tiny creatures can be that powerful. Here, in this article, you will be introduced to the top ten zombie insects that exist in our world.
10 Carpenter Ants
Researchers have always been so interested in explaining the relationship between the ants and the fungi which works on turning those ants into zombies. One of these ants that can become zombies is the carpenter ant and there are actually four separate species of the carpenter ant. Each of them has their own fungus; one actually falls a victim for a fungus called the Ophiocordyceps; this fungus can poison an ant and once it is poisoned, it actually seems to lose control over itself, thus it forcefully climbs onto a tree and unconsciously keeps on biting on the leaves until it dies, but a few days after the occurrence of the death, a rot mushroom starts developing and growing out from the back of the ant’s head, getting it ready to spread the infection across the vicinity. However, researchers have discovered that the healthy ants are able to recognize their zombie fellows, so they know that it is better for them to stay as far away from them as they can.
9 Honey Bees
Have you ever heard about the CCD; the Colony Collapse Disorder? Well, that was a phenomenon that started in 2006 because millions of bees seemed to mysteriously disappear. Right after researchers and experts have noticed this sudden disappearance, they started suspecting the existence of a parasite or a fungus that controls the behavior of the bees. Few years later, the researchers have discovered a certain fly, known as the Apocephalus Borealis, that lands where the bee resides, injecting its eggs into the abdomen of the bee and then, as soon as the eggs hatch, the bee’s behavior starts altering and it loses control, flying chaotically and losing its balance by stumbling into things. When this starts happening, the bee leaves its place at night and flies for a few miles away until it descends onto the ground. A few days later, a cluster of flies begin ripping their way out of the innocent bee’s body.
8 Pill Bugs
Pill bugs are usually the victims of a parasitic worm known as Acanthocephala. This worm resides in the pill bugs body, totally having control over them that they actually turn them into their own transportation mean that will actually carry them to their true hosts, which are the European starlings. Once these pill bugs become hosted, they are no longer possessing their natural traits; so instead of keeping themselves in the dark places, they would go into complete open areas, as they become attracted to light, and serving themselves as a delicious meal for those starlings, besides, they become so visible and easily to be spot. This evil Acanthocephala turns the pill bug to an extremely defenseless insect that put itself out in the danger until eaten by a starling. At the point, the parasite starts mating with another inside the bird.
7 Corn Earworm Moth
Corn Earworm Moth is a victim for a virus known as the Hz-2v. This virus can only be transmitted through a sexual intercourse, so it works on forcing two of the corn earworms to mate, thus it can rapidly spread. The virus does not get enough when it is transmitted through these first two worms, so for duplicating even faster, it disrupts the centers of sex production for the female moths, so it goes looking for another mate as soon as she finishes mating with another. This way; the female moths never stops mating with other corn earworm moth until it dies.
6 Giant Gliding Ants
Giant Gliding Ants are species of ants that actually live on very high surfaces, like almost 40 meters above the ground; they create their nests in the treetops. These species are also victims for some kind of parasite that turns them into zombie insects and this parasite is actually known as the Myrmeconema Neotropicum. The ants that live that high above the ground are expected to die if they happen to fall to the ground, but, going back to the name of these ants, Giant Gliding Ants, they seem to have a way that makes them go back to their nests easily and it is gliding. The scientists and experts have discovered that these ants have rear ends that are naturally black, but these ends can turn into the red for no apparent reason and the ant keeps shoving it in the air when it turns into that bright red. These rear ends are known as the Gaster and scientist wanted to discover the secret behind these ends turning into a different color, so they sliced up a gaster of one ant and they discovered that this particular part was full of parasitic eggs that seem to be changing the behavior of the ant. After some testing, the scientists have discovered that these parasitic eggs release a certain chemical that stops the ant’s pheromones cycle and forces it to move to slow while its gaster is thrust up in the air then it wears off the outer skeleton, so the red eggs become noticeable through the ant’s shell and that is why its rear end appears red. From here, the parasite starts its spread across the forest, for the ant is going to look like the berries that the birds usually eat, so the ant becomes visible for the birds to pick up and eat, consequently, the bird will get infected as well, thus the feces of the bird will contain those eggs and it will be eaten by other ants, making the cycle going on forever.
5 Amber Snails
Well, snails in general do not seem to have the best life ever, but at least they are actually able to protect themselves from the predators since they have hard shells. Snails are usually bound to avoid any open spaces and light, however that does not save them from being victims of the zombification by a parasite known as the Leucochloridium paradoxum; these parasitic worms are actually transferred to the snail if it eats the bird’s feces. These worms lay eggs inside the snail that later hatch into either a miracidia or a larva that would grow into sporocysts. These sporocysts are more like swollen tubes that replace the eyestalks of the snail, blinding it completely, so the snail would go out in the sunlight and attract the birds to eat them and the cycle keeps going on and on.
4 Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Virus
Well, since it is now quite obvious how this zombification takes place, we will get to the solid of the topic. The Gypsy moth caterpillar is actually victimized by a parasite called the Baculovirus; this parasite controls the hosts, forcing them to collapse their bodies in a gooey liquid. The baculovirus is actually more like a virus; it affects those caterpillars and force them to climb onto a tree and stand still until it dissolves where it stands and falls on the tree leaves to be eaten by other caterpillars.
Ladybugs are usually hosted by the Dinocampus Coccinellae. When this parasite finds a suitable ladybug, it penetrates the beetle with its stinger and implant an egg in the bug’s abdomen. It only takes a few days before the egg starts to hatch and the larva starts to absorb the nutrients out from the ladybug’s body then it becomes paralyzed completely from moving, but it is still alive and can slightly move just to let the predators know it is still alive. After the implanted wasp finally grows, it emerges out of the ladybug’s body and it can go on its way if it happen to manage to stay alive during the hostage period.
Conopidae Larvae usually chooses the bumblebees as their perfect hosts. Like any other parasite, they start controlling the bees’ behavior and leading them to dig their own graves. The Conopid is a fly that injects its egg inside the bumblebee’s back and when it hatches, the larva starts feeding on the inside of the bumblebee, eating it alive and forcing it to act more unsteadily since its internal organs are being eaten up. A few days later, the bumblebee might attempt to bury itself and the larva keeps living inside it for protection until it emerges as an adult fly and repeats the whole cycle to other bees.
Strepsiptera Myrmecolacidae is the parasite that victimizes the grasshoppers and the ants. It is actually considered the kindest parasite on that list. They are actually flies that have different preferences where the female prefers hosting the grasshoppers while the males host the ants. The female fly would actually look for a suitable grasshopper then clasps onto it and begins slathering it with enzymes. These enzymes work on burning a hole through the grasshopper’s abdomen until it can reach the inside of it, then it begins secreting more enzymes that will force the host’s body to produce a sac that will protect the fly from the antibodies. The female fly stays in the abdomen of the grasshopper, and keeps on attracting a male fly, but the grasshopper goes on with its life, seemingly oblivious to what is actually happening inside its belly.