‘Zombie’ Parasite Takes Over Insects Through Mind Control | National Geographic

Fungi and slime molds race to decompose dead matter on the forest floor. Many spread by releasing spores up to thirty thousand a second. (scary music) If just one of these spores lands in the right place, and takes root, it can colonize a whole new area. (scary music) But not all fungi feed on the dead. (scary music) Days ago, a spore landed on this ant, now she’s acting strange. A network of roots has
infiltrated her muscles. Her body has been taken over by cordyceps, a parasitic fungus. It floods her brain with chemicals, drugging her, compelling her to head where conditions are perfect. (scary music) Just the right amount of light. Just the right amount of humidity for the parasite growing inside. It forces her to clamp
down in a death bite. And cordyceps reveals
it’s gruesome nature. (scary music) After three weeks of growth, cordyceps can release its own spores. Infecting more ants. Releasing more spores. Infecting more ants. Releasing more spores. Infecting more ants. Infecting more ants. More ants. More ants. More ants. (scary music) Cordyceps can wipe out
entire ant colonies. But more than just ants are at risk. (scary music) There are over six hundred species of cordyceps
spread across the world. Most are found in jungles where they prey on a
whole host of victims. (scary music)


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