‘Zombie cicadas’ unknowingly spreading deadly fungus to others

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(WTVO) — A mind-controlling fungus is spreading among the cicada population across the Southern U.S., which eats away at the insect’s body but still allows it to fly around.

According to researchers at West Virigina University, the fungus – called Massospora — eats away at the genitalia, butt and abdomen of the cicadas until they eventually fall off, replacing them with fungal spores.

Researchers say the infected cicadas fly around as if nothing is wrong.

As the cicadas begin to decay, instead of dying right away, the fungus causes male cicadas to flick their wings like females to attract other males. When the males close in for a mating, they become infected by the fungus.

The study concluded that the infected cicadas are generally harmless to humans, and since cicadas reproduce at a high rate, the fungus isn’t expected to have a wide effect on the overall population.

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