A Bug Is Causing Caterpillars To Turn Into ‘Exploding Zombies’
By Amanda Froelich Truth Theory
Wildlife experts are scratching their heads over a bug which is causing caterpillars to turn into “exploding zombies.” According to the Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust, skins of the insects which have been turned inside out have been found on Winmarleigh Moss, near Garstang.
The BBC reports that the baculovirus bugs propels caterpillars on a “death march” to the top of the plants. When it dies, the bug “bursts” out of them and moves on to find other victims. Dr. Chris Miller, a wildlife expert, described it as “gruesome — like a zombie horror film.”
Reportedly, Dr. Miller was conducting a butterfly survey on Winmarleigh Moss when he noticed the frightening sight. A caterpillar was hanging off the end of a branch of a small bush. He then spotted another hanging from a tall bald of grass. “Both were dead but otherwise intact,” he said.
After noticing “small scraps of caterpillar skin” on other branches, he knew something was off. He says research reveals that the baculovirus affects the way “zombie insects” respond to light. In turn, it makes them climb to high, dangerous places where they end up dying.
“It is really unusual seeing caterpillars high up as they can be eaten by birds,” said Dr. Miller. “This is a caterpillar of the oak eggar moth which eats heather and bilberry so it is normally hidden in the undergrowth, not at the top of plants.”
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