A parasitoid is an organism that spends a significant portion of its life history attached to or within a single host organism which it ultimately kills (and often consumes) in the process. Thus they are similar to typical parasites except in the certain fate of the host.
That said, the behaviour of some of these plants and animals can be a truly engaging read although it’s best to leave this stuff alone until after lunch or dinner. For the same reason, graphic photos are kept to a minimum too
I’ve elected to provide a short summary of the contents of this interesting article instead of simply regurgitating what I read – you can jump to the actual post for the juicy bits
The article introduces the genus of parasitic fungi cordyceps, of which cordyceps sinensis is one of the most well known species for its prized healing properties in traditional Chinese medicine (I’m taking some pills made from it to speed up recuperation after a bad spell of eczema flare-ups, that’s how I found this article ).
At Neurophilosophy, the reader is introduced to another species cordyceps unilateralis which has a startling ability to influence the behaviour of its infected ant host to ensure its spores disperse over a wider area and increase its chances of infecting other ants. There’s more photos of cordyceps fungi and their hosts over at www.fruit.affrc.go.jp and www.utexas.edu if you’re so inclined.
Photo by L.E Gilbert @ The University of Texas
Camponotus ant with Cordyceps lloydii.
And if you thought that these plants were creepy enough, wait until you read about the gordian worm It appears that these two species are just the tip of the iceberg, just browse around in Wikipedia and check out freaky stuff like the suicide-inducing parasitism category, the phoridae family of flies or the Solenopsis daguerrei species of parasitic ants.
Learn more at Neurophilosophy.Tags: World