Cicadas with Massopora: These Are the Flying Salt Shakers of Death

West Virginia University has recently discovered that a cicada fungus that is called Massopora has many chemicals that are similar to those that are found in the hallucinogenic mushrooms. 

This fungus causes cicadas actually to lose their limbs. This is when their weird behavior kicks in. They try to mate with everything they have in their way, but they don’t have genitals or butts.  

In spite of the fact that they are in this horrific state, they keep roaming around as if nothing has happened, and they spread the disease. This fungus controls their bodies entirely.  

How did they get in touch with the disease?

Cicadas first got in contact with the fungus underground, where they spend from 13 to 17 days. This, before they are transformed into adults. In the first 7 to 10 days above ground, their abdomen begins to show their infection at the end of the cicada. It is not a very pleasant image. 

The adults that are infected can accelerate the normal activity when it comes to the sporulation process. This enables them to widespread the dispersal before they die. They also get a weird behavior, a hypersexual one. 

The study made its appearance in 2016 when billions of cicadas came in the northeast United States. Two students were very passionate about them. One wanted to study the fungus. Another one came with a nickname for the cicadas: “flying salt shakers of death.” 

At first, the team tried to infect the cicadas in a lab. They used a method that did not work. However, they were able to see enough of the infected cicadas from the wild to make this discovery. 

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Meagan Kozlovs

About the Author: Meagan Kozlovs

Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto  and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.

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