MAR 03, 2020 3:48 PM PST

This Fungus Kills Flies in an Unusual Way

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

If you’re a fly, then you’d do good to hope you never come in contact with a type of fungus known by its scientific name Entomophthora muscae.

This fungus kills flies slowly and gruesomely – its spores infiltrate the host fly’s skin, and afterward, they grow and develop inside the fly’s body. In time, typically three to five days, the fly begins to exhibit unusual behavior. It begins with a twitch and is followed by aimless wandering. Eventually, the fly crawls to the top of a high place, a behavior known as summiting.

Flies don’t usually exhibit this behavior, but a fly affected by the aforementioned fungus does because the fungus assumes control over the insect’s brain. After the fly finds a place to summit, it glues itself down with its own sticky saliva. In time, its wings suddenly shoot upward; the fly is now dead.

You might be wondering why the fungus killed the fly and what it accomplished in doing so. As the fungus continues growing inside the fly’s body, it eventually breaks through the skin, releasing more spores into the air. In fact, this is why the summiting behavior was so crucial – the higher up the fly was able to climb, the further the fungus spores can be curried by the wind before succumbing to gravity.

As you might come to expect, the cycle repeats itself, and this is how the fungus reproduces.

Related: This cockroach-eating wasp controls its prey's mind before devouring it

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 09, 2021
Microbiology
Dogs' Paws Are Cleaner Than Their Owners' Shoes
MAR 09, 2021
Dogs' Paws Are Cleaner Than Their Owners' Shoes
Assistance dogs are vital to many people who need them to perform daily tasks, but are sometimes denied entry to places ...
MAR 14, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Modern Animals Still Have Similarities to Our Weird Ancient Ancestors
MAR 14, 2021
Modern Animals Still Have Similarities to Our Weird Ancient Ancestors
Recent research involving ancient marine animals shows how humans and other animals still carry some of those animals' c ...
APR 04, 2021
Plants & Animals
Alternating Sleep Phases in Octopuses Suggest They Can Dream
APR 04, 2021
Alternating Sleep Phases in Octopuses Suggest They Can Dream
Octopuses are known to sleep and change their colors while they do it. Researchers have now linked these color changes t ...
APR 07, 2021
Plants & Animals
Scientists Discover a Crab-Dissolving Parasite
APR 07, 2021
Scientists Discover a Crab-Dissolving Parasite
Parasites abound throughout the natural world. While not all of them cause the host's death, this newly discovered p ...
APR 30, 2021
Plants & Animals
Celebrating Trees on Arbor Day
APR 30, 2021
Celebrating Trees on Arbor Day
The oldest environmental holiday in the United States is Arbor Day, celebrated on April 30. It's a day for inspiring peo ...
MAY 05, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
DNA From 2,000 Year Old Extinct Date Palms is Sequenced
MAY 05, 2021
DNA From 2,000 Year Old Extinct Date Palms is Sequenced
Researchers have taken 2,000 years old date palm seeds that were gathered from archaeological sites and used them to gro ...
Loading Comments...