“Zombie cicada” under the control of fungi: even if the abdomen is gone, it will not stop breeding

It’s hot summer now. I don’t know if you can feel one of the characteristics of summer: cicadas chirp. The larvae of cicadas live in the soil and have a pair of strong digging forefeet. The use of piercing and sucking mouthparts sucks the root sap of plants, weakens the tree vigor, causes the branches and shoots to wither, and affects the growth of trees. It usually stays in the soil for several years or even more than ten years. In the soil, the larva will undergo four times of molting, so there is ”

generally, the cicada will drill out of the soil from June to July, climb to the trees on the ground, complete the fifth molting, and finally grow into adults, which is what we call eclosion. Because life is too short, they breed, spawn and die within 4-6 weeks. After hatching, the eggs enter the next life cycle.

scientists have found that, compared with various natural enemies, the main threat to the survival of cicadas is a fungus, which is called mass spore fungus. Besides, when the larvae break the ground, the fungi attack the larvae. According to the research, 2-5% of periodic cicadas in North America have been infected with this fungus called Trichosporon before they drill into the ground and attach to their exoskeletons They will continue to accumulate strength, dormant in the body of the larvae, when the larvae break through the soil and start to invade the belly of cicadas.

the growing fungi finally burst out from the cicada’s buttocks, and grew a mass of white flower spores. We should know that cicadas have no pain nerves. Pain is a response of the central nervous system to the electrical signals from the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is only responsible for transmitting electrical signals.

the nervous system of insects is composed of a series of ganglia, among which the hypopharyngeal ganglion affects the activity of the insect body, is the activity and coordination center of the appendage of the mouth organ, and has a stimulating effect on the thoracic nerve center. Generally, insects have three pairs of thoracic ganglia, which are respectively located on the body segments of the anterior, middle and posterior thorax. The motoneuron axons extend into the pectoral muscles and leg muscles to control the movement of insects.

so fungi erode the tail of cicadas. Cicadas have no sense of it. They can even move. They fly and drop spores. Spores dropped from their buttocks infect other cicadas.

this fungus is very cunning. After losing the complex ganglion of the ventral end, the cicada has lost the ability to reproduce, but the cicada does not know, so the fungus will disguise as the belly of the cicada and control the cicada’s behavior. In this way, the cicada becomes a controlled “zombie cicada”, and the fungus will make these “zombie cicadas” mate crazily.

for example, fungi can make male cicadas excite their wings wildly, which is the main way for female cicadas to attract the opposite sex. After seeing the courtship signals, other male cicadas will come one after another to try to reproduce with it. In the process of contact, these cicadas will be infected with fungi. It can be said that this is a very terrible epidemic virus in the cicada world.

scientists are curious about how fungi control cicadas’ behavior? After research, scientists found that this fungus can produce a hallucinogenic agent – gymnopsin, which is a kind of neurotoxin with neurohallucinogenic effect, It mainly acts on the autonomic nerve, causing nerve excitation, hallucination, severe tachycardia, pupil enlargement.

recently, a very popular case of seeing a hand Smurf was that a patient met with a flying elf after eating it by mistake. Those who eat and see green hands will see different shapes and colors of villains, but all of them are lively and active. The villain in illusion is well combined with the real scene.

at the time of discovery, researchers almost dropped their chin like cicada’s buttocks, because there was no previous discovery of gymnopsin in other places except mushrooms. And, about 900 million years ago, they parted ways with mass spores.

in addition, the chemical substances secreted by fungi are not only gymnogenin, but also cathinone, a monoamine alkaloid found in Arabian tea. It is called “zombie medicine” and “bath salt” in foreign countries, and is commonly known as “Changzhi tendon” in China. This is a new type of drug, which mainly affects the central nervous system. If it is not used properly, it will not only become addicted, but also hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, and even death. If you want to know its horror, you can refer to the “face biting case” in Miami. In the past, scientists have not found cassidone from fungi.

scientists don’t know why the fungus secretes these chemicals, which make cicadas hyperactive and lustful. They’re going to be Teddy cicadas. These bizarre behaviors don’t help cicadas themselves, because their reproductive system is either eaten by fungi or dropped along with their buttocks. This will only infect more cicadas with the fungus.

ah, I have to say that cicadas are really pitiful. Even if their bodies are hollowed out, they still have to passively complete the breeding task and constantly look for mates to breed. In only 4-6 weeks of free time, they finally make wedding dresses for others.

in the insect kingdom, there are many phenomena of fungi controlling insects. Some fungi will invade ants, aphids, beetles and crickets, and control their behavior, and push them to a lethal height, so that the fungi attached to the insects can shoot spores everywhere. Scientists call this behavior pattern climbing disease. But scientists still don’t know what the mechanism is?

some people worry about whether we will inhale hallucinogens emitted by fungi when we eat cicadas. Researchers also speculate that if we eat a dozen or more infected cicadas, we may get excited. However, this may require the cicadas to be in the early stages of infection, before they fly out to sprinkle salt. Because at this time, in order to better control the host, fungi are likely to release more of these chemicals. However, the fungus is only found in North America, so we don’t have to worry about it! 08/16/2020