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Flight of the Living Dead – The Tiny Fly That Turns Bees into Zombies

Human zombies might be a figment of the imagination, but ‘zombie bees’ actually exist. They are ‘created’ when regular honeybees get infested with a particular type of parasite. The bees begin to display highly erratic and bizarre behavior that’s very zombie-like. These infested bees were first discovered in 2008 in California by John Hafernik, a professor of biology at San Francisco State University.

Ever since the initial discovery, zombie bee-sightings have been reported in Oregon, Washington State, California and South Dakota. According to Professor Hafernik, “They fly around in a disoriented way, get attracted to light, and then fall down and wander around in a way that’s sort of reminiscent of zombies in the movies. Sometimes we’ve taken to calling it, when they leave their hives, ‘the flight of the living dead.’”

The culprit here is the Apocephalus borealis, a parasitic fly that is known to implant its eggs in ants. The fly larvae live off the ants’ brains, dissolve their connective tissues and eventually finish off the ants. Researchers now have reason to believe that the flies have found a new home for their eggs – European honeybees that are common in the United States. The flies lay their eggs in the bees that eventually hatch, wreaking havoc in their hosts’ bodies.

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