Killer Flies Are Turning Honeybees Into Scary Zombies

Posted: Oct 12 2015, 1:49am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 12 2015, 10:44pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Killer Flies Are Turning Honeybees into Scary Zombies
Zombie Fly laying eggs inside a Honey Bee. Credit: Zoobeewatch, Christopher Quock

Zombie bees have been spotted on the West Coast and recently in some Eastern states.

Honeybees are under great threat. Their population stocks in many countries have declined alarmingly over the years and it can lead to food crises as humans are heavily dependent on them as a major food source.

There can be many reasons for the honeybee’s drastic decline; one of them is a parasitic fly Apocephalus borealis. The tiny fly causes unusual changes in bee’s behavior. The afflicted bees unwillingly leave their hives and start to make uncharacteristic night flies. They often stagger around bright porch lights before being disoriented and eventually falling dead.

The devastating fly lays its eggs inside the bees. When eggs are hatched and larva comes out of egg case, it starts to eat host bee from inside out and feeds on its muscle and nerves system. After a few weeks, it makes its way out of the bee’s body and splits it between the head and the thorax.

The zombie honeybees have been noticed along the west coast and recently in some eastern states and it seem that attacks of zombie flies are spreading out as more and more zombie bees have been spotted.

“We’re not making a case that this is the doomsday bug for bees,” said John Hafernik, a biology professor at San Francisco State University. “But it’s certainly an interesting situation where we have a parasite that seems to affect the behavior of bees and has them essentially abandoning their hives.”

Zombie bees were first discovered in California by Professor Hafernik in 2008 where he found hard outer shell inside the dead bees. 

Zombie bees have been spotted in many other parts as well including New York, South Dakota and Oregon. The fly can also affect bumblebees and paper wasps and is stated responsible for promoting the spread of the virus of ‘colony collapse disorder.’

Professor Hafernik started a website called Zoobeewatch in 2012 to track the spread of zombie bees and asked the participants to upload the photos of the affected bees. They have found many confirmed cases of attacks. But researchers believe that zombie flies are not a huge threat as of yet but it can turn into a major one in future.

Source: Washington Post

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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