New Zombie Ants Fungi Identified from Samples Collected in Brazil (Video)

By on Mar 3, 2011 in Amazing, Animals, Science Comments
Zombie Ant
A Zombie Ant
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Four new “zombie ant fungi” were identified by scientists, several science news sites reported on Wednesday. The new species were identified from samples collected at two sites in Brazil‘s tropical rain forest. Zombie-ant fungi are brain-controlling fungi which turn ants into zombies, controlling them and eventually killing them afterwards.

According to reports, each of the four new species controls a different species of carpenter ant. The original zombie-ant fungus, known as Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, was first identified in 1865.

According to LiveScience, the fungus uses as-yet-unidentified chemicals to control the ant’s behavior. The ant is directed by the fungus to leave its colony, a very unusual behavior for an ant to do, and was “ordered” to bite down the underside of a leaf. The fungus will then kill the ant as it gets anchored to the leaf. Afterwards, the fungus produces a long stalk protruding from the ant’s head, shooting spores out hoping to infect other ants.

Below is a video from BBC Wildlife showing how zombie ant fungi “zombiefy” ants and other insects.

Zombie Ants
Credit: Youtube / BBCWorldwide

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