Zombies-- Are They "Fun Guys?"

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

I'm starting off the evening with a bad pun... "fun guys" versus "fungi?" Har har har! Although my titling skills may not be the greatest, the basis for my bad joke is actually pretty awesome!

Last week, I focused on how a zombie apocalypse might begin on May 21 of this year. Although unlikely, I suppose it could be a possibility. Well, this week (and probably next week) I am focusing on other *real* zombie cases that while they remain at a small level now, they may grow, mutate, and expand to infect humans someday. And then we should all panic.

I was straightening up my house today and noticed a sure sign of spring/summer-- an ant was crawling around! Ants are super annoying because you never have to deal with just one. There are always about five thousand more following behind the one or two you kill. In fact, certain types of ants can have colonies that number in the millions and are impossible to eradicate because they have multiple queens. Disturbing, right? The little ant I spotted today reminded me of an article someone shared with me awhile back (it may have even been Alicia!).

The article was first covered by National Geographic and reposted and re-reported by other various "news" outlets. In fact, some one you may have read it! But for those who have not, the basic discovery is this-- there are several species of fungus growing in Brazil that infect host ants and turn them into zombies!! The fungus controls the ants' brains and forces them to move to a location where the fungus has a better chance of growing. Eventually, the fungus takes over the body completely, killing the ant and sprouts out of the corpse. Before death, the ant will show outward signs of the fungus growth and can infect other ants that pass by. CREEPY. But so very true.

And this phenomenon doesn't just affect ants. Other insects can become hosts to the zombie fungus, including crickets and flies! In fact, scientists have only just begun to discover the various species of these fungi and what creatures they affect. One researcher claims this is "just the tip of the iceberg." It isn't so unreasonable to believe that there could, in fact, be a fungus out there that could infect a human and addle the brain so much as to create a zombie-like being. After all, you may recall that the voodoo zombie is "created" from a mixture of poisonous plants that grow naturally, so zombie fungus... not a huge stretch.

All the more incentive to get rid of the pesky little guys during these upcoming months! No one (besides me) wants to go to a zombie picnic... Hide your potato salad!