Carpenter Ants (Camponotus leonardi) in Thailand are being infected with a fungus (Ophiocordyceps) that slowly takes over the ant’s mind and body, and undoubtedly their souls turning them into Zombie Ants. The fungus causes the ant to lose it’s bearings and eventually fall out of the trees that they call home. The Zombie Ants fall to the ground and the Fungus makes the ant clamp down on a leaf and then at noon… and I do mean at EXACTLY noon… the ant dies and the fungus then sprouts out of it’s head (see image above) infecting any other ant that comes by.
The whole process takes three to nine days from initial infection for the ants to become completely zombified and for most of those days the ants actually go about their business as usual showing no signs of the infection that is rapidly destroying their brains and muscle tissue.
Ultimately, the researcher hopes his work will lead to practical applications, such as biological insecticides that can target pests. Many species of carpenter ant, for instance, can cause structural damage to buildings as the bugs carve their nests in damp wood.
If you ask me these scientists should be making sure that the fungus won’t make it’s way into humans. Nothing would be worse than a zombie with leaves growing out of it’s head.
Thanks to the Professor for sending me this.