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 >>

science
This Year the Medicine Nobel Prize Went to a Pair of Parasite Poisons

The 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine just went to three scientists who found parasite-killing chemicals that are now important tools for fighting human diseases. But the chemicals in question weren’t created in a lab: one is produced naturally by a bacterium, the other by a plant used in a traditional Chinese herbal recipe dating back 1,000 years. Read More >>

health
How Did a Rare, Vomit-Inducing Parasite Infect the Water Supply for 300,000 People?

More than 300,000 households in Lancashire have been warned to boil their water until at least Wednesday to kill any traces of Cryptosporidium, the BBC reports. The nasty livestock parasite, which surfaced last week, probably came from a rotting animal carcass or faeces, according to The Guardian. Lovely. Read More >>

medicine
Anti-Missile Tech is Being Used to Find Malaria Before it Strikes

As it stands now, there's no truly effective method of protecting against malaria. Vaccines are notoriously difficult to make, and it's almost impossible to detect the infection in its early stage—until now, that is. And it's all thanks to highly advanced, tank-fighting military hardware. Read More >>

science
How a Cat Poop Parasite Could Help Scientists Develop a Cancer Treatment

This week, a team of researchers at Dartmouth announced an exciting, if terribly disgusting, medical discovery. A single-celled parasite usually found in cats' intestines—and later in their poop—shows unique promise as a cancer treatment. The researchers even think the parasite could enable them to create personalised cancer vaccines. Read More >>

science
Scientists Hacked a Blu-ray Player to Test for Salmonella

As much of the world migrates its movie needs from optical discs to hard drives, a team of chemists from Spain found a new use for a regular old Blu-ray player. They turned it into a cheap but functional medical device that could help out in developing countries. Read More >>