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The Tiny Fly That Turns Bees into Zombies

10:44 AM

Human zombies could be a figment of the imagination , but actually exists ' zombie bees ' . These are ' created ' when regular honeybees get infested with a particular type of parasite . The bees start to show quite erratic and strange behavior too zombie - like . The infested bees were first discovered in 2008 in California by John Hafernik , a professor of biology at San Francisco State University .
Ever since the first discovery , zombie bee - sightings 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 kind of reminiscent of the zombies in the film . Sometimes we took 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 has been known to implant its eggs in ants . The talented fly larvae live off the ants ' , dissolve their connective tissues and eventually finish off the ants . The researchers now have reason to believe that the flies have found a new home for their eggs - European honeybees common in the United States . The flies lay their eggs in bees eventually hatch , wreaking havoc on the body of their host .

The zombie begins - such behavior as soon as the bees This infested with eggs . Once the eggs hatch , the bees drop dead within five minutes . Some bees in commercial hives have been affected by this phenomenon . 24 out of 31 sites in the San Francisco Bay area reported honeybees parasitized by A. borealis . Thankfully , there is not a real threat of zombie ( bee ) interference happening any time soon . At least , that's what faith Professor Hafernik .
Even farmers , who rely on bees to pollinate fields and produce honey , not yet reported widespread infestation . But most of the sightings were from the West Coast of the country . In Vermont , said time employees and part of the hardware store beekeeper Anthony Cantrell zombie bees he discovered after noticing several dead bees outside his home . When he came to a , a website powered by Hafernik and his colleagues , Cantrell realized that some of the bees may be infested .

" I just thought , well , another thing that the poor honey bees are facing , " he said . Rapidly rising issue Cantrell Steve Parise , a production agriculture specialist at Vermont Agency of Agriculture , Food and Markets . The issue was discussed in January at a meeting of the Vermont Beekeepers Association . For now , they decided to trap bees to further investigate the zombie threat .
Lab research has suggested that female A. borealis is usually the culprit - he injects its eggs in the abdomen of the bee as soon as possible after coming in contact with the bee . Seven days later , as many as 25 mature larvae emerge from the area between the head and chest of the bee . In the wild , up to 13 larvae were observed bursting out of a single bee . The infested bees in the wild abandon their hives and fly towards the light source , which starts the strange behavior . Walk around them in circles and could not stand . Just before death , the bees sit in one place and buckle up .

" They kept stretching their legs out and then falling over , " said Andrew Core , a biology grad student at San Francisco State . " It really painted a picture of something like a zombie . " Core , along with his colleagues , discovered that honeybees are most likely to be infected by the parasite of others when they leave their hives to forage at night . They also discovered fly pupae near dead bees at the bottom of their nests lab . This means that A. borealis can actually multiply within a hive and can even infect the queen bee .
Currently , the researchers are not sure why the flies seem to be affecting the behavior bees ' so much . There is also reason to believe that the infested bees may actually leave the nest to protect other bees from the same fate . Or, the hive you can sensing the danger and driving out the infested bees . " A lot of touching and tasting goes on in a hive , " said Professor Hafernik . " And it is certainly possible that their co-workers are finding them and can tell something is wrong with them . "

Print Hafernik puts it rather succinctly , " It 's kind of a combination of zombies and alien mix . "

Sources: LiveScienceABC News


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