"Cordyceps fungi turn their insect hosts into zombies in order to increase their own chances of reproductive success!
The spores of the fungus attach themselves to the external surface of an insect where they germinate. They then enter the body through the tracheae via holes in the exoskeleton called spiracles. Fine fungal filaments called mycelia then start to grow inside the body cavity, absorbing the host’s soft tissues but avoiding its vital organs.
When the fungus is ready to release spores and reproduce, it releases chemicals that act on the host’s brain, causing the insect to climb a plant and to clamp its mandibles around a leaf or leaf stem close to the top, securing it firmly to what will be its final resting place.
The fungus then devours the insect’s brain, killing the host. The fruiting bodies of the fungus sprout from the body through gaps in the joints of the exoskeleton. Once mature, the fruiting bodies burst, releasing clusters of capsules into the air. These in turn explode on their descent, spreading airborne spores over the surrounding area. These spores then infect other insects, completing the life cycle of the fungus.
Wasp infected with cordyceps fungi spotted by orionmystery”