animals
Real-Life ‘Zombie’ Animals Walk The Earth Thanks to Thousands of Parasites

Consider the ladybug. Our polka-dotted little friend spends its days munching aphids, climbing leaves, occasionally alighting upon a delighted child’s outstretched finger, and generally beetling around being adorable. It’s one of nature’s most inoffensive critters, which is perhaps why the Dinocampus coccinellae wasp is such a troubling one by comparison. See, in order to lay her egg, the mama Dinocampus must attack a ladybug with her stinger, and deposit an egg—and a virus—into her precious little abdomen. As the baby wasp grows, it sustains itself by eating the ladybug’s insides, until the virus—which has infected the host’s entire body—hits the brain and shuts down the central nervous system. This conveniently paralyses the ladybug while the larva erupts from her abdomen and spins itself into a cocoon. Read More >>

science
Scientists Think They Can Use Silver to Help Kill Brain-Eating Amoebas

In folklore and movies, silver is often one of the best tools against terrifying monsters like vampires and werewolves. But a recent study seems to show that silver could help defeat some real-life horrors, too. Silver nanoparticles loaded with common anti-seizure drugs might be able to safely and effectively treat brain-eating infections caused by amoebas, the study found. Read More >>

tv
The Head Writer of Rick and Morty is Creating a New Animated Star Trek Series

CBS’s all-encompassing expansion of the Star Trek universe just got a weird new addition: an adult animated comedy from one of the minds behind Rick and Morty. Read More >>

health
We Need to Pay More Attention to a Deadly Disease Spread by Kissing Bugs, Heart Doctors Warn

A disease that often causes no symptoms, but which can suddenly become fatal years after a person was infected, is receiving a big spotlight from the American Heart Association (AHA). On Monday, the organisation published a scientific statement in its journal Circulation, urging heart doctors in the US to start paying attention to Chagas disease, a parasitic infection mainly spread by bloodsucking kissing bugs. Read More >>

wtf
This Woman’s Horrifying Selfies Helped Track the Parasitic Worm Crawling in Her Face

A woman’s selfies helped her monitor the movements of an unwelcome guest: a roving parasitic worm living in her face. Thankfully, doctors were able to get the pesky pest — which she likely caught overseas from a mosquito — out of her body without any problems. Read More >>

science
Mistletoe Somehow Survives Without Protein Needed by All Other Multicellular Life

Mistletoe might be a nice yuletide decoration, but it’s also a nefarious, parasitic badass that preys upon a series of hosts. Apparently one species has decided it no longer needs a protein that every other multicellular organism on Earth requires to live. Read More >>

science
After Eight Days of Itchy Eyes, Woman Finds 14 Worms

It’s a medical discovery you’d hate to be part of: A 26-year-old woman in the US is believed to be the first human ever reported to be infected with a certain species of eye worm. Read More >>

science
Stop Feeding Your Pets Raw Meat

An emerging trend among pet owners is the practise of feeding dogs and cats raw meat. This idea is that we should put our domestic cats and dogs on diets that more closely approximate what they might eat in nature. New research from Europe shows the surprising degree to which germs and parasites can be found in commercial raw-meat products—posing potential health risks to both pets and their owners. Read More >>

science
The Fungus That Turns Ants Into Zombies is More Diabolical Than We Realised

Carpenter ants of the Brazilian rain forest have it rough. When one of these insects gets infected by a certain fungus, it turns into a so-called “zombie ant” and is no longer in control of its actions. Manipulated by the parasite, an infected ant will leave the cosy confines of its arboreal home and head to the forest floor—an area more suitable for fungal growth. After parking itself on the underside of a leaf, the zombified ant anchors itself into place by chomping down onto the leaf. This marks the ant’s final act. From here, the fungus continues to grow and fester inside the ant, eventually thrusting a stalk through the ant’s head that releases fungal spores. This entire process, from start to finish, can take upwards of ten agonising days. Read More >>

science
Diabolical Parasite Grows Inside Baby Wasps and Eats Their Brains to Escape

Scientists have discovered a parasitic insect with a reproductive strategy straight out of an Alien movie. Dubbed the “crypt-keeper wasp,” it infects a rival species with its young, which, after hatching, proceed to chew their way out through the victim’s head. Read More >>

parasites
How Certain Parasites Can Make Your Life a Living Hell

Everybody knows that the world is filled with creepy, microscopic parasites. But a new Kurzgesagt YouTube video explains how a particular group of parasites are meaner and more disgusting that you ever could have imagined. Read More >>

nature
Florida Releases Millions of Sterile Flies to Combat Flesh-Eating Maggots

Officials in south Florida have been releasing troves of sterile flies in an effort to combat a parasitic maggot that eats the living tissue of warm-blooded animals — including humans. Read More >>

science
‘Cat Parasite’ Could Be To Blame for People Suffering from Rage Disorder 

A new study has shown that people with Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), associated with bursts of overblown aggression, are twice as likely as healthy people to have Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite, famously carried by cats, has been shown to mess with the neurochemistry of mice. Could it be doing the same to us? Read More >>

science
Bloodthirsty Ticks Have a Seriously Weird Genome

Ticks—those unbreakable, blood-lusting arthropods that haunt your summer camp memories—have some fascinating genetic secrets. The tick genome tells a tale of weaponised spit, expandable armour, and how to drink 100 times one’s body weight in blood. Strangest of all, it’s utterly enormous. Read More >>

history
Roman Toilets Weren’t as Sanitary We Thought 

Good plumbing is an overlooked, but vital, part of modern life. One of the first civilisations to really get a handle on it was the Romans. So why did the prevalence of parasites during Roman times increase compared to the Iron Age? Read More >>