Picture of the Day

'Flying salt shakers of death'

If cicadas made horror movies, they’d probably study the actions of their counterparts plagued by a certain psychedelic fungus. West Virginia University researchers have discovered that a cicada fungus called Massopora contains chemicals similar to those found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. The fungus causes cicadas to lose their limbs and eccentric behavior sets in: Males try to mate with everything they encounter, although the fungus has consumed their genitals and butts. Despite the horrid physical state of infected cicadas, they continue to roam around freely as if nothing’s wrong, dousing other cicadas with a dose of their disease. Shown here: a periodical cicada infected by the fungus Massospora cicadina. Cicadas are part of Brood VIII, which emerged in June of this year in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Visit Website | Image credit: Matt Kasson/West Virginia University