Massospora cicadina is a parasite that makes you want sex and decompose alive

Massospora cicadina is a parasite that makes you want sex and decompose alive

Categories: Nature | Science

Earlier we have already told you about the creepy parasites that can live in the human body. And today we want to talk about those organisms that pose a danger to insects. Massospora cicadina is one of those. And he can be said to be particularly cruel. At first, he causes euphoria and sexual desire in the victim, "pumping" hallucinogens and amphetamines. And then "forces" her to spread deadly spores. The insect is slowly dying at this time.

It sounds creepy, but the scariest thing is that it's true. And because of this parasite, the short life of cicadas becomes even shorter…

Massospora cicadina is a parasite that makes you want sex and decompose alive

Magicicada is a genus of cicadas with a 13- and 17-year life cycle. They are also called periodic cicadas or "seventeen-year-old locusts". The fact is that the life expectancy of insects is indeed 13 and 17 years (depending on the species), which is a lot for animals of this class! However, cicadas spend most of this time underground. At a depth of 30 cm, they go through all stages of development - from larvae to nymphs, and then, after 13 or 17 years, they appear on the surface.

Massospora cicadina is a parasite that makes you want sex and decompose alive

The "adult life" of cicadas does not last very long — from 4 to 6 weeks. But sometimes something happens that reduces this already short period to a minimum, forcing the insect to suffer and spread the "infection" throughout all surrounding territories. We are talking about infecting a cicada with the parasite Massospora cicadina.

The fungal pathogen Massospora cicadina is unique in that it can only infect cicadas with a 13- and 17-year life cycle. The parasite has been "sleeping" underground for years and begins to act only when the insect reaches its maturity and is preparing to get out. The infection leads to the appearance of a "plug" of spores, which replaces the end of the cicada's abdomen while it is still alive. This leads to infertility, further spread of the parasite and, eventually, the death of the cicada.

Massospora cicadina is a parasite that makes you want sex and decompose alive

But the most interesting thing is that, even despite the lack of reproductive function, cicadas constantly want to reproduce. The reason for this is all the same parasites that, penetrating the insect's body, inject the hallucinogen psilocybin and amphetamine into its hemolymph (blood analog). Thus, the cicada is always in a state of euphoria and is driven by only one desire, namely, sexual. And while she is circling above the ground in search of a partner, the spores of a dangerous fungus are literally spilling out of her abdomen.

This happens right up to the death of the insect and even after it. When a cicada dies, for example, on a tree branch, its corpse spreads spores.

Massospora cicadina is a parasite that makes you want sex and decompose alive

This is such a difficult fate for some cicadas: first, they sit underground for years, and then, finally, they get out to turn into anxious "living zombies" who leave a deadly "poison" on everything they touch.

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