Cicadas Contracting STD That Transforms Them Into Hypersexual ‘Zombies’

A sexually transmitted fungal infection, Massospora cicadina, has been detected in southern Illinois and is spreading across the Midwest. This infection, which affects only the 13- and 17-year periodical cicadas, turns them into “zombies” and causes their genitals to fall off. The current outbreak involves Brood XIII in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and Brood XIX extending further south and east.

Jim Louderman from Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History noted that the fungus has already infected cicadas in Champaign, Illinois, and is expected to spread to Chicago. Experts in Missouri have also reported infections there. Birds that consume infected cicadas may experience hallucinations.

The fungus causes male cicadas’ gonads to detach, releasing chalky spores that infect others. Despite losing their reproductive organs, the infected cicadas are driven to mate excessively, spreading the infection further, according to Dr. Matt Kasson of West Virginia University.


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