December 1

It begins with cells from the atmosphere taking up residence in the host’s blood stream. These cells begin to proliferate and develop tubal extensions that connect aggregates of cells. Feeding off the host’s blood is then transmitted through these tubes to develop a networking of these aggregates. They begin to infiltrate the host’s muscle and this releases chemicals which infiltrate the host’s brain. This causes the host to leave its home colony, to travel up a nearby plant stem and at precisely 25 centimeters, the host stops, takes the plant’s main vein into its mandible, clenches tightly so that the plant’s juices begin to flow. This grip on the plant vein becomes permanent and the ant host is now unmoving. Inside the ant, the parasite begins to form a kind of spear that goes through the ant’s head. A bulbous head develops on this spear and eventually bursts, pouring a large number of cellular spores onto the ant colony and its trails below. This ensures the infection of many more hosts.

This parasite is known as Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. The etymology refers to “club headed snake.” It is commonly known as the “Zombie” parasite, as it is completely takes over any independent function of the ant. It is a form of parasitic fungus and has been known to completely destroy ant colonies.

In a previous post on parasites (see October 4), I mentioned the use of biological realities as a form of “analogical” research in exploring the psychological and cyberlogical relevance of these biological “models.” I will explore this relevance in a subsequent post. In the meantime…think about it.