The Cicadas Will Be Extra Horny This Year Thanks to Some Kind of Fungus

·3 min read
close-up photo of a cicada upside down clinging to a piece of wood
close-up photo of a cicada upside down clinging to a piece of wood

Have you heard about the cicadas? I’ve been actively trying to avoid reading or talking about them, because I care about very few things and bugs are not among them, but also because I feel like this literally happens every year. I could be wrong — again, I do not know anything about bugs nor do I wish to — but I just feel like pretty much every year there’s some chatter about how the cicadas are coming, and then every year it turns out to be more Boy Who Cried Cicadas than Paul Revere, but whatever.

Anyway, this year is apparently different, because the cicadas are not only coming, they’re coming. You see, according to cicada lore, the cicadas are expected to be hornier than usual this time around thanks to a fungus that turns them into “sex zombies,” as The Cut put it. That fungus is called Massospora, and it infects cicadas underground, later yielding some pretty disturbing consequences. According to the Washington Post, the fungus “grows inside the cicadas, filling their insides and pushing out against their abdomens.” After that, things start to get weird. Apparently the fungal growth eventually causes the rings that compose the back halves of the cicadas’ bodies to “slough off and fall to the ground.” In other words, their butts fall off. Meanwhile, a chemical compound in the fungus floods the cicadas’ brains with a sex-crazed amphetamine, and so, “now lacking butts and genitals — the bugs try to mate like crazy.” Nature! It’s pretty gross and super weird!

It’s important to note, as West Virginia University postdoctoral researcher Brian Lovett told the Post, that these horned-up cicadas are not acting in their own interest, “but in the interest of the fungus.” Their relentless attempts at mating despite no longer possessing butts or genitals serves to spread the fungus, and captured by its spell, the cicadas do so dutifully. Male cicadas even co-opt a few mating tricks from their female counterparts, twirling their wings in female cicada fashion in an attempt to dupe other male cicadas into mating with them and spreading the fungus further.

But wait, it gets weirder. In addition to turning cicadas into hideously deformed sex zombies, the fungus also turns them into what some experts reportedly call “flying salt shakers of death.” Why would they call them this? Because apparently the bugs who get the fungus from other cicadas become infected with even larger, heavier spores, which then fall off when the bugs beat their wings, dusting the land below. Then, 17 years later, the fungus infects a new generation of cicadas, and this gross, weird cycle continues.

Regardless, I sincerely doubt we’ll have to wait to 17 years to talk about cicadas again, because like I said, this somehow seems to happen almost every single year — even the “sex zombie” fungus part. But whatever. Happy Hot Cicada Summer everyone. May your butts and genitals remain intact throughout your own mating attempts this season.

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The post The Cicadas Will Be Extra Horny This Year Thanks to Some Kind of Fungus appeared first on InsideHook.

The article The Cicadas Will Be Extra Horny This Year Thanks to Some Kind of Fungus by Kayla Kibbe was originally published on InsideHook.