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This fungus turns female flies into zombies and males into necrophiles

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The parasitic mousse fungus (Entomophthora muscae), after taking control of the female housefly’s brain, produces mold in her body, which is a powerful aphrodisiac. It becomes a living corpse, yet males copulate with it.

Mousses insect (Entomophthora muscae) produces an infected female housefly (Musca domestica) mold that acts as an aphrodisiac. The substance encourages males to mate despite the fact that the female is dead. Infected female carcasses literally burst from the spores of this fungus.

Research by scientists from Copenhagen

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen conducted a series of experiments on a parasitic mushroom – an insect cell and its influence on the behavior of house flies. Ecologist Andreas Naundrup offered male flies a choice between infected and uninfected dead females. It turned out that males prefer to mate with females in which spores of the fungus have developed.

Researchers wanted to find out the reason for this choice, and analyzed the chemicals that secreted live, dead flies, and those that breed the mousse’s insect. It turned out that the most attractive in terms of smell are those infected by the fungus, because they produce compounds that act on flies as an aphrodisiac.

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“Mushroom Entomophthora muscae attracts house flies “- the researchers write in the article. Moreover, it turned out that almost three-quarters of males in contact with infected females became infected with the fungus.

Mousses insect (Entomophthora muscae) is a fungus that belongs to the order of the insect cellars (Entomophthorales). By developing an insect’s body, it causes it to slow down, stop feeding, assume an unnatural body position and act like a zombie.

Parasitic insect mousse fungus Shutterstock

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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