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Cicadas high on fungus drugs won’t stop mating

In a scene fit for a horror film, paperclip-size cicadas sexually transmit a fungus attached to their bodies from one mate to another, sometimes losing parts of their abdomens along the way. Now, new research reveals just how the fungus keeps those cicadas mating, Science News reports. Massospora cicadina, which forms a spore that erupts through the insects’ abdomen, produces the hallucinogen psilocybin and the amphetamine cathinone. These two drugs curb the critters’ appetites, letting them mate over and over again even after losing parts of their bodies, researchers report this week in Fungal Ecology. Scientists plan to next study how the fungus produces the drugs—and whether they influence other aspects of insects’ behavior.

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