Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cordyceps Fungus

Incredibly 80% of all the insects live in jungles. There can be more than 8 million individuals in a single hectare. But jungle ants don't have it all their own way. Bullet ants are showing some worrying symptoms. Spores from parasitic fungus called Cordyceps has infiltrated their bodies and their minds.

Those affected discovered by workers are dumped far way from collony. It seems extreme but there is a serious reason why.

Like something out of science fiction the fruiting body of Cordycepts erupts from the ant's head. It can take three weeks to grow and when finished the deadly spores will burst from its tip. Then any ant in the vicinity will be in serious risk of death. The fungus is so virulent it can wipe out whole colonies of ants. It's not just ants that fall victim to this killer. There are literally thousands of different types of cordiceps fungi and remarkably each specializes on just one species.

But these attacks do have a positive effect on the jungle's diversity.

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