It seems like a scene out of a horror movie, or at least one made by insects. A fungus called Massospora cicadina attacks a cicada, destroys much of its abdomen, and releases the mind-altering drug psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic in mushrooms, and cathinone, an amphetamine. This allows the infected insect (pictured) to continue to fly around as if a third of its body isn’t missing, researchers report this month on the bioRxiv preprint server. Infected cicadas are hyperactive, spend less time eating, and the males are hypersexual—all of which may help the fungus spread to other victims, The Atlantic reports.
Read our COVID-19 research and news.