zombies are real, and they are mostly insects. i am not leaving my house, ever. although every summer, there are these tiny little beetles that come and live in my apartment, and i am always really nice to them and set them free out the window, and if they are zombies, i hope to all the higher powers that they will see me as a servant and not a potential zombie-host.
this book is amazing. it is all about the ways in which parasites TAKE OVER the brains of their hosts. which is totally rude, but so freaking cool. some of them are standard: the entomophthora muscae fungus just uses a housefly as an incubator, and takes over the fly's tiny fly brain in order to control its movements to guide it to the most opportune place to kill the fly and EXPLODE its spores out into the atmosphere.
however, paragordius tricuspidatus are way more insidious. they let crickets eat their larvae, and then they hatch inside and start munching on the cricket's insides. pretty standard stuff, for a parasite. but then, they take over the cricket's tiny little brain and make it fling itself into the water, so the little worms can hatch out and swim free like willy. and if the crickets are removed from the water by well-meaning scientists, for science, the infected crickets will just jump back in, even though they are crappy swimmers who have been brain-attacked by killer worms.
this is terrifying.
and also, ew.
i assume my brain is more complex than that of a cricket, but maybe it's not. maybe one day i will find myself flinging myself into some pond somewhere, at the mercy of worms who have been eating my insides for years and are now through with me.
but wait - there's more.
the glyptapanteles wasp.
what a dick. so, a pregnant lady-wasp poops her eggs into a caterpillar with her stinger, right? and the larvae hatch inside and eat the caterpillar up, leaving it alive because they are sadistic. and they hatch on out of there, still leaving the caterpillar alive, although all weak-like. and then they do their little thing where they make little cocoons. but. but.
the caterpillar is still alive. and some of the little larvae stayed inside the caterpillar. AND THEY ARE USING IT LIKE A TANK!! they hang out in there and release chemicals that take over the caterpillar's tiny caterpillar mind, and they guard the cocoons. and if a bugga comes near to investigate the cocoons, the caterpillar, under the control of the stay-at-home larvae, will whap the bugga whooooosh away from the cocoons. and as soon as the cocoons hatch into beautiful wasps, the larvae lose interest in the caterpillar and it dies.
i mean, there is more, but it is all horrifying.
let me leave you with this fact:
according to the center for disease control and prevention, nearly one-quarter of adults and adolescents in the united states are infected with t. gondii. they just don't know it.
now, they say that they don't really understand t. gondii all that well, and people who are "infected" might not be "affected" by its presence, BUT DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT DOES??? IN RATS???
it goes into rat-brains and turns off their fear instinct. and this is probably in you. and me. making you walk down that dark alley or pet that crocodile or watch rock of ages
i mean, just be smart. don't let a protozoan push you around.
and by that, i mean tom cruise.
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