Apparently, it is not easy to notice this zombie-like transformation, as the cicadas that are usually infected are of the genus Magicicada, which spend up to 17 years of their life underground. Fortunately for the scientists behind the PLOS Pathogens report, they are able to track different cicada populations appearing at different times over a cycle of years.
Once the abdomen is transformed into a mass of spores, the zombie cicada will now fly around and release spores to infect even more cicadas. As for the way Masospora controls this flight to release spores and the call for mating that occurs after infection, scientists are still unsure which chemicals within the fungus do so.The life of an uninfected cicada, after coming out of the earth years and years after its birth, will usually last only a few weeks. They mate, lay eggs, and then die. When they are infected by Masospora, their life is extended, but given that they are zombies at the moment, it is not actually alive.
If you’re looking for zombie-like science, read how scientists resurrect underwater life forms 100 million years ago. Then, read about how a bionic lunar jellyfish was created by scientists earlier this year.
Wesley LeBlanc is a writer of news articles and a guide for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes.