Cordyceps are a fungi that infects the host (in this case a beetle) and then instructs the victim to climb as high as possible, where it will die and sprout fruiting bodies. Eventually, the fruiting bodies will erupt and ejecting spores to the wind, which will travel far and wide looking for new hosts.
Ant zombification begins when an Ophiocordyceps fungus shoots spores onto an insect. The parasitic fungus gradually takes over the ant's brain and directs the insect to a cool, moist location. The fungus then kills the ant, and fruiting bodies erupt from the ant's head and spread more spores.
Crickets too can fall prey to zombie fungi (as pictured), though little is known about the fungus species that brought this insect to its horrific end. Hughes plans to remedy that—and expects to find many more zombie fungus species in the forests of Brazil. "This is only the tip," he said, "of what will be a very large iceberg." (See "'Zombie Virus' Possible via Rabies-Flu Hybrid?")
21 Fascinating Photographs Of Cordyceps And The Killer Fungus’ Insect Hosts
Cordyceps, or “Zombie Fungus” are a parasitic fungus Spores from this killer fungus infect the insect’s brain, and, later, the fruiting body of the cordyceps will erupt from that insect’s head and body.
Poor thing! Fungal infection causes tarantula to grow antlers This image may look like something dreamed up for a surreal horror movie, but it's a real horror for the tarantula in question. This unfortunate arachnid is infected with Cordyceps, a parasitic fungus that replaces its host's tissue with its own.
In some ant species, some individuals can belong to a "supersoldier" subcaste instead, and these ants fight off predatory army ant species and bar their way by blocking off the entrances to the nest using their over-sized heads. Now, scientists have managed to create supersoldiers in other species by reactivating ancestral genes.
The world's biggest insect lives on Little Barrier Island, in New Zealand and is endangered. The "Giant Weta" is so large it can eat carrots; the size of this specimen is about average for its species. How cool is this thing???