May 20, 2021

OLD AND BUSTED: Asian Murder Hornets.

The New Hotness? A Fungus Is Pushing Cicada Sex Into Hyperdrive And Leaving Them Dismembered:

“This is stranger than fiction,” Matt Kasson, an associate professor of forest pathology and mycology at West Virginia University, tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “To have something that’s being manipulated by a fungus, to be hypersexual and to have prolonged stamina and just mate like crazy.”

Kasson, who has been studying Massospora for about five years, says just before the cicadas rise from the ground, the spores of the fungus start to infect the bug. Once it’s above ground and starts to shed its skin to become an adult, its butt falls off.

Then a “white plug of fungus” starts to grow in its place.

A “white plug of fungus” seen in cicadas infected by Massospora.

“It looks as if the backside of the cicada is being replaced either by chalk or by like one of those nubby middle school erasers,” Kasson says.

The insects have no idea what’s happening. The fungus, however, is “pulling the strings” and making the cicadas want to mate with everyone.

Males that are infected will continue to mate with females, but they’ll also pretend to be females so they can spread the fungus to even more partners.

Hey wait — I thought it was wrong to assume someone’s gender in the 21st century.

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