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The Parasites
  • This is a thread for the parasitic, for all those things that feed on their living hosts.

    So I was in that weird part of the Internet again and I accidentally found out about freakin Glyptapanteles wasps. Now you have to find out about them too, because I don't see why I should be the only one who has to go to bed tonight trying not to think about Glyptapanteles.

    I'm sure you all know about those icky parasitic wasps that lay their eggs in a caterpillar and eat it while the caterpillar is still alive. Glyptapanteles decided that wasn't messed up enough, though. Glyptapanteles had to find a new angle: mind control. When all of the evil little waspy pupae have eaten their way out of the caterpillar, something they do basically turns the host into a miserable half-eaten zombie sockpuppet. The zombie caterpillar is forced to serve as a sort of bodyguard for all the pre-wasps, protecting them from attackers until they're mature enough to fly away to fresh woods and pastures new, to start the whole glorious circle of life once again.

    You're welcome.
  • I think they're awesome. I also dig that ants keep slaves and do gardening.
  • I read that, and all I could think of was the Conservative Party.
  • I remember/am haunted by seeing this process documented on a BBC nature programme, possibly helmed by David Attenborough. If I remember correctly, there's also a parasite fungus that infects ants and get them to climb up somewhere high (for an ant), so it can explode out of it's head and spore over a greater area.

    I could double-check that, but I don't really want to.
  • Closed Circuits: Ah, you mean the Cordyceps fungus. Actually, it's not just ants but many, many other species of insects that are brain-jacked and turned into the mind-controlled doombots of an evil fungus.

    Link has pix and vid. You're welcome.
  • Ooh, I just read an amazing article recently about someone who's researching behavioral changes in humans resulting from latent toxo infections. Let me see if I can find it...

    Ah, here is is! How Your Cat is Making You Crazy.  Are you a sloppy dresser with slow reflexes who actually kind of enjoys the scent of cat urine? You may be infected!
  • I don't enjoy the smell of cat pee but I totally fit the toxo-infected profile.

    Also: Toxoplasmosis Parasite May Trigger Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorders

    Wonder if this could be related at all?: Scientists shocked to find antibiotics alleviate symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Yeah, the Atlantic article touches on the schizophrenia link too. I wonder what percentage of the Japanese population is toxo-positive?

    Interestingly, according to Flegr, men and women seem to respond differently to toxo infection. Men become more introverted and less aware of others' opinions; women, conversely, become more extroverted and image-conscious. 

    I'm interested to see if other research bears out Flegr's findings...
  • My siblings had themselves tested before spawning and everybody came back negative. Up until then we did think we probably did :)
  • I'm interested if the toxo influenced gender differences carry across sexual orientations.  Would be kind of great if certain gender presentations were inspired by a variety of parasites.
  • Sloppy dresser, slow reflexes, likes the smell of cat pee...that's, like, every crazy cat lady ever. Makes sense.
  • Sekhmet said: women, conversely, become more extroverted and image-conscious.

    evongvisith said: Sloppy dresser, slow reflexes, likes the smell of cat pee...that's, like, every crazy cat lady ever. Makes sense.

    Well, it would if that wasn't a contradiction...

  • I am suspicious of gender tropes, parasites or no parasites, and it was the dudes (rats, and human dudes) in the study who liked the cat pee smell?
  • I assumed in this case it wasn't gender so much as sex (hormone linked, most likely?) that prompted the trend.


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