IMPORTANT NOTICE

June 25, 2015
I will no longer be updating this website. The traffic on this site is low and the response effort to maintain it is too high. I will instead be focusing on the Facebook page and Twitter account for CDBS, both of which generate much more activity than the website. If you are a fan of CDBS, please don't leave! Simply follow me on Facebook or Twitter...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who’s in Charge Inside Your Head?

Zombie bees? That’s right: zombie bees. First reported in California in 2008, these stranger-than-fiction creatures have spread to North Dakota and, just recently, to my home in Washington State.
Of course, they’re not really zombies, although they act disquietingly like them, showing abnormal behavior like flying at night (almost unheard-of in healthy bees), moving erratically and then dying. These “zombees” are victims of a parasitic fly, Apocephalus borealis. The fly lays eggs within honeybees, inducing their hosts to make a nocturnal “flight of the living dead,” after which the larval flies emerge, having consumed the bee from the inside out. These events, although bizarre, aren’t all that unusual in the animal world. Many fly and wasp species lay their eggs inside hosts. What is especially interesting, and a bit more unusual, is the way an internal parasite not only feeds on its host, but also frequently alters its behavior, in a way that favors the continued survival and reproduction of the parasite. more

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