“Zombie cicadas” infected with mind-controlling fungus return to West Virginia

“Zombie cicadas” infected with mind-controlling fungus return to West Virginia

Outdoor Cooking

Humans aren’t the only ones susceptible to the psychedelic chemicals found in magic mushrooms. “Zombie cicadas” — under the influence of a parasitic fungus — have reemerged in West Virginia to infect their friends, and now scientists have a better understanding of how it happens.

Researchers from West Virginia University recently saw the return of these bizarre creatures, which are infected with a fungus called Massospora. According to a study published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, the fungus manipulates the insects to unknowingly infect other cicadas, rapidly transmitting the disease to create a zombie army of sorts.

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West Virginia University researchers were part of a team that discovered how Massospora, a parasitic fungus, manipulates male cicadas into flicking their wings like females – a mating invitation – which tempts unsuspecting male cicadas and infects them. WVU PHOTO/ANGIE MACIAS

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A graph highlights the life of a cicada infected with Massospora. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

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