Parasite Makes Ant's Butt Looks Like a Berry

Biology is nothing if not fascinating. Here's a story of one parasite which has to infect both birds and ants in its lifecycle. But how does it get from one host species to another? Here's how:

To perpetuate its life cycle, a newly identified parasite morphs its ant victims to such a degree that the infected ants resemble red, ripe juicy berries that birds are more inclined to pick, according to the University of California at Berkeley.

Eggs from the parasite then pass through the unwitting birds when they defecate. Ants consume the waste, become infected, and the whole cycle starts anew.

The transformation from black ant to red berry form represents the world's first known example of fruit mimicry caused by a parasite. In this case, the victimizer is a parasitic nematode, or roundworm.

Link - via Scribal Terror


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