Photo courtesy of David Hughes

Welcome to the world of mind-control fungus!

Imagine taking a walk in the woods along your favorite trail. Then, all of a sudden you have no control over your body; you find yourself climbing up into the treetops, positioning yourself in a prime location for spore dispersal. Once you bite down onto a leaf, the fungus controlling you continues to grow inside of you, killing you by eating your innards. Once the stalk growing out of your back releases its spores onto the ground, another passing trail-walker completes the life cycle when they, too, become infected.

Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani. Photo courtsey of David HughesWelcome to the world of mind-control fungus, Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani. Native to Brazil, O. camponoti-balzani is a one of four newly named species of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis which infects ants from the genus Camponotus. Each of the new species is named after the species of carpenter ant the fungus infects.       

Check out "The Life of a Zombant" cartoon before heading over to the Classification page, where you will learn how this species is classified.