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This is the freakiest fungus I have ever seen, freakier even than the giant man-eating one in “Field Trip,” my favourite episode of the X-Files (Season 4). The story is a bit like an X-File too, so for the purposes of this blog picture me red-headed, scientifically rigorous and secretly in love with Mulder (that last one’s true.)

This class of fungus they call Cordyceps, and once released their spores drift down like gentle dew upon unsuspecting insects. If successful, the spore will ninja past the exoskeleton and into the host tissue where it begins to grow. And grow. And grow.

When it is big enough it infects the brain and kills the insect. Then, and this is the freaky part, it pushes out the fruiting body out of the insect like an evil seed germinating in fertile soil. And man does it look messed up. Check it out.

Cordyceps unilateralis cordyceps_tuberculata

Some species seem to direct the insect to find a place with the right humidity and temperature to encourage the growth of the fungus just before it dies. It’s discussed awesomely at The Loom, who I am forever grateful to for telling me about this horror-movie.

Speaking of horror movies, David Attenborough did a piece on this once, check it out below. It’s just about the scariest documentary I’ve ever seen, my skin is still crawling from it.

Is anyone else getting a flashback from Alien?

It’s not the only thing that feeds on insects and messes with their heads, the Gordian Worm infects grasshoppers and other insects as a larva, growing to immense sizes (relatively speaking) and then apparently making the insect commit suicide by drowning so that it can escape into the water and swim free as an adult. Reminds me of The Happening. Video below, but be warned, it is creepy.

Crazy, no? Have you ever SEEN anything like it? I… no pirate words can describe it.