Tags: zombie | caterpillars | explode

Zombie Caterpillars Explode to Share Virus in Real Life Sci-Fi Plot

Image: Zombie Caterpillars Explode to Share Virus in Real Life Sci-Fi Plot
Infected oak eggar moth caterpillars in the UK are acting like zombies and then exploding. (Andy Chisholm/Dreamstime)

By    |   Thursday, 03 Aug 2017 05:15 PM

Wildlife experts have found remains of "zombie" caterpillars that apparently explode to spread their virus to other insects nearby.

Oak eggar moth caterpillars, which are native to Europe and the British Isles, infected with a baculovirus seem to climb up to high tree branches or the tops of trees before exploding, even though they normally stay close to the ground to avoid being seen by birds, Newsweek reported.

The virus causes the caterpillars' strange zombie-like climbing behavior as well as the exploding, scientists say, Newsweek reported. It is thought that the virus affects the way the insects respond to light, making them seek rather than avoid it.

The Wildlife Trust discovered the caterpillar corpses as they attempted to move butterflies from a nature reserve to another part of the country where some species have become extinct, Newsweek reported.

The phenomenon isn’t new; this is only the current outbreak of the virus, which has been around for several years. CNET said the virus has existed for 100 years.

The Wildlife Trust is asking people to report sightings of caterpillars or snails atop tree branches rather than in the shade, Newsweek reported.

Twitter was horrified by the development — or by those who would joke about it.

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Wildlife experts have found remains of "zombie" caterpillars that apparently explode to spread their virus to other insects nearby.
zombie, caterpillars, explode
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2017-15-03
Thursday, 03 Aug 2017 05:15 PM
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