A tough question....
David N. Gaines
dgaines at vt.edu
Sat Feb 24 02:12:06 EST 1996
In article <4fvosk$20o at vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>, egrunden at prairienet.org
>Several years ago, I was watching a documentary about tropical
>In this documentary they talked about a fungus that lives (for the most
>in the canopy. It drops its spores to the floor where they come in
>with a certain species of ant. They infect the ant and at a certain
>the ants life it is compelled (by the infection process) to climb a
>at the top it sinks its mandibles into a branch and dies there. The
>then sprouts from the dead body of the ant and the cycle continues.
>1) Does anyone know the name of this tropical fungus, or at least have
> of it?
>2) How can a fungus influence a SPECIFIC behavior pattern to occur? I
> understand if the ant just went crazy and did random things, but how
> the exact behavior (climbing, clamping onto a branch,etc) be caused
> and over?
>I realize this whole thing sounds a little hard to believe (I think so
>but that is what they said in the documentary. Anyone know of similar
>The Spirit of Nature, a powerful force,
> belongs and returns to its creative source.
>- Excerpted from The Collective Works of Johnny Pokerface -
As an entomologist I study various wasps which are parasitoids of other
insects (primarily moth and butterfly larvae). I know of at least one
species of Braconid parasitoid which passes it's larval stages inside the
larvae of the imported cabbageworm (butterfly). This parasitoid larva
feeds on the inside of its host without damaging the host's locomotory
musculature. Fully developed (5th instar) larvae of the imported
cabbageworm normally seek a concealed spot (away from predators and pupal
parasites) in which to pass their pupal stage. This behavior is seen in
unparasitized cabbageworms only at the end of the fifth instar when
pupation is imminent. Parasitized larvae, however, seek a concealed spot
in their fourth instar (pupation not imminent). This allows the
parasitoid larvae a quiet, concealed location in which to emerge from the
host larvae and spin a cocoon. The parasitoid cocoon is thus, less
likely to be found by a predator or hyperparasitoid. How is the host
fooled into seeking a concealed location before it is fully developed?
It sounds to me like hormonal control.
D. Gaines dgaines at vt,edu
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