This Parasite Drugs Its Hosts

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This Parasite Drugs Its Hosts With the Psychedelic Chemical in Shrooms

Imagine emerging into the sun after 17 long years spent lying underground, only for your butt to fall off.
That ignominious fate regularly befalls America’s cicadas. These bugs spend their youth underground, feeding on roots. After 13 or 17 years of this, they synchronously erupt from the soil in plagues of biblical proportions for a few weeks of song and sex. But on their way out, some of them encounter the spores of a fungus called Massospora.

A week after these encounters, the hard panels of the cicadas’ abdomens slough off, revealing a strange white “plug.” That’s the fungus, which has grown throughout the insect, consumed its organs, and converted the rear third of its body into a mass of spores. The de-derriered insects go about their business as if nothing unusual has happened. And as they fly around, the spores rain down from their exposed backsides, landing on other cicadas and saturating the soil. “We call them flying saltshakers of death,” says Matt Kasson, who studies fungi at West Virginia University.
Massospora and its butt-eating powers were first discovered in the 19th century, but Kasson and his colleagues have only just shown that it has another secret: It doses its victims with mind-altering drugs. Perhaps that’s why “the cicadas walk around as if nothing’s wrong even though a third of their body has fallen off,” Kasson says.

Curious Cdn

We don't need another Cosby thread!

It's been done to Jello!
I thought it was a CNN one, carry on.
Jeepers, "Anderson Cooper" and "butt plug" in the same thread...must have been a hell of a day.