Check out my new post at High Country News about how the phorid fly “zombifies” and kills honeybees.
Here’s an excerpt:
“If you were a honeybee, you might scare your children into obedience with tales of the phorid fly, a creature whose depravity sinks to deep depths. Picture this: you’re going about your business, pollinating flowers and the like, when one of these devils swoops in, clamps down on your abdomen and, using a spiked injector called an ovipositor, injects its eggs inside you. Within a few days, maggots hatch from the eggs and start eating your guts, disemboweling you from the inside. Obviously, this is enough to drive anyone demented. As the torture reaches its pinnacle you flee the hive, crazed and confused, and never return. You die a desperate death, vainly spinning in ridiculous circles, under the cold beam of a light that you are inexplicably attracted to. With little respect for your corpse, about a week later as many as 13 phorid fly larvae wiggle their way out of your decaying body, ready to begin the cycle anew by infecting some of your friends.”
Image: A female phorid fly (Apocephalus borealis) courtesy Brian V. Brown.