The dreaded Bullet Ant (Paraponera clavata), in possession of the most painful sting on the planet, here has fallen prey to an even more sinister organism: a parasitoid fungus (Ophiocordycipitaceae). The ‘zombification’ of insects in tropical rainforests has been well documented, but the incredibly precise way that these fungi control the behavior of their hosts prior to consuming them is not yet fully understood. Recent research indicates that, rather than invading the brain which might kill the insect prematurely, the fungus may directly control the muscles of its host like a puppet. In this way it can lead the ant to a location where it is more likely to infect others. Yasuní National Park, Ecuador.
- © Chien C. Lee
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Aculeata, Apocrita, Ascomycota, Ecuador, Formicidae, Hymenoptera, Hypocreales, Insecta, Ophiocordycipitaceae, Paraponerinae, Sordariomycetes, South America, Vespoidea, amazon, amazon basin, animal, ant, arthropod, entomopathogenic, entomopathogenic fungus, fauna, fungi, fungus, insect, invertebrate, parasit, parasite, parasitic, parasitism, tropical
- Contained in galleries
- Central & South America, Insects, Interactions, Parasites & Parasitoids, Fungi