Fungus has been invading carpenter ants for 48 million years

Scientists have found that the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has possibly been invading carpenter ants (Camponotus) for 48 million years. The parasite not only infects the ant, but it manipulates the ant’s behavior as well, influencing it to bite the underside of leaves along the veins. Once the ant finds an optimal location, the fungus grows rapidly, killing the ant and preparing it to release a new spore. During this...

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Fungi turn ants into zombies. (need I say more?)

A stroma, or spore-releasing body, of a killer fungus grows out of the head of a victim ant. Image courtesy David Hughes and with thanks to Science News. As much as Hollywood might want you to think they exist, zombies are fictitious. But a study out today claims that actually, they kind of do exist — if your undead is an ant and your possessive reviving sorcerer a deadly and clever species of fungus. Imagine you’re a...

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Video evidence of white-nose syndrome

The U.S. Forest Service, in partnership with Ravenswood Media, has produced an informational video about white-nose syndrome in bats (learn about WNS in this ESA press release).  The video doesn’t include the latest news — that Pennsylvania has ordered all bats taken from afflected caves to be killed — but it’s a good overview of the current state of information on the disease. Or, really, the lack thereof. In...

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