What causes the dismembered, sex-crazed bugs?

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Dismembered and sex-crazy so-called “zombie cicadas” could soon be spotted in your backyard. Massospora cicadina is a fungal pathogen that only infects 13- and 17-year-old periodic cicadas like this year’s Brood X. The disease takes over their bodies, causing many to lose their lower abdomen and genitals. It’s a strange phenomenon that has lasted for hundreds of years, causing creepy dismembered – but vivid – insects to crawl around the area. “Later in the process, we’ll see this fungal disease that cicadas can get. In 2004, an estimated 30 percent of cicadas were infected – in June, “said Gene Kritsky, Dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University College. He is also a renowned cicada researcher. He says it takes a while for the fungal disease to manifest and grow inside cicadas, which typically have an above-ground lifespan of six weeks. Typically, leaf hoppers will see the effects of this fungal infection in mid-June – the effect typically means dismemberment. “This fungus manifests itself in the stomach and fills with a chalk-like structure. The tip of the belly tilts when it is filled. It looks like someone stuck a piece of brown chalk into the insect’s abdominal cavity. “The result is usually the loss of the insect’s back body. Even when limbs and abdomen are missing, these little cicadas are still posable. They can still fly, said Kritsky, and are still very much alive. “You have a ventral nerve cord so that the brain and the ganglia mass at the base of the head control the mouth parts and the legs are partially controlled by the thoracic ganglia. So you can still move.” Cicadas shed their exoskeletons, attach themselves to branches, mate, and lay eggs before they die in about six weeks. But the fungal disease actually prevents them from multiplying in many cases. But even if they are missing the stomach and genitals, mating is still at the forefront of their above-ground mission. “The fungus itself produces an amphetamine that changes the behavior of a cicada. When a man becomes infected with this fungus, he stops calling for women, ”Kritsky said. “But when he hears another male call, he flaps his wings like a female and lures the male close to him. When that male comes into contact with him, the fungal spores are transferred to the other male.” The unsettling result is zombie-like looking cicadas that hobble across the earth in eerie ways. The phenomenon is nothing new. Researchers noticed the bizarre behavior as early as the 19th century. Don’t worry: this fungal pathogen has no effect on humans. Cicadas are slowly emerging across the Cincinnati area. And what you see is just the beginning. Here’s our complete guide to what to expect during the making of Cincinnati’s Brood X.

Dismembered and sex-crazy so-called “zombie cicadas” could soon be spotted in your backyard.

Massospora cicadina is a fungal pathogen that only infects 13- and 17-year-old periodic cicadas like this year’s Brood X.

The disease takes over their bodies, causing many to lose their lower abdomen and genitals.

It’s a strange phenomenon that has lasted for hundreds of years, causing creepy dismembered – but vivid – insects to crawl around the area.

“Later in the process, we’ll see this fungal disease that cicadas can get. In 2004, an estimated 30 percent of cicadas were infected – in June, “said Gene Kritsky, Dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University College.

He is also a renowned cicada researcher.

He says it takes a while for the fungal disease to manifest and grow inside cicadas, which typically have an above-ground lifespan of six weeks. Typically, leaf hoppers will see the effects of this fungal infection in mid-June – the effect typically means dismemberment.

“This fungus manifests itself in the stomach and fills with a chalk-like structure. The tip of the belly tilts when it is filled. It looks like someone stuck a piece of brown chalk into the insect’s abdominal cavity. “

The result is typically the loss of the insect’s rear half of its body.

Even when limbs and abdomen are missing, these little cicadas are still posable. They can still fly, said Kritsky, and are still very much alive.

“You have a ventral nerve ligament so that the brain and the ganglia mass at the base of the head control the mouth parts and the legs are partially controlled by the thoracic ganglia. So you can still move.”

Cicadas arise only for the purpose of mating. They shed their exoskeletons, attach themselves to branches, mate, and lay eggs before dying in about six weeks.

But the fungal disease actually prevents them from multiplying in many cases. But even if they lack the stomach and genitals, mating is still at the fore of their above-ground mission.

“The fungus itself produces an amphetamine that changes the behavior of a cicada. So when a man becomes infected with this fungus, he stops calling out for women, “said Kritsky.” But when he hears another male call, he flaps his wings like a female and lures the male close to him. When this male comes into contact with him, the fungal spores are transferred to the other male. “

The unsettling result is zombie-like-looking cicadas that hobble across the earth in eerie ways. The phenomenon is nothing new as researchers noticed the bizarre behavior as early as the 19th century.

Don’t worry: this fungal pathogen has no effect on humans.

Cicadas are slowly emerging in the Cincinnati area. And what you see is just the beginning. Here’s our complete guide to what to expect during the making of Cincinnati’s Brood X..