Scientists say that a fungus known as
Ophiocordyceps unilateralis invades the
bodies of ants and takes control of their behavior, until a fungal stalk
grows out of the ant's head and spreads its spores.
This Ophiocordyceps may look like a plant
but it's a fungus that can enter into an ant
and subvert the ant's already servile will
as, step by step, it moves in close for the kill.
The ant will then wander, having lost control,
the good of the colony no longer the goal,
until it falls from a tree in an upper story,
plunging perilously away from ant territory.
Next, guided from within by this mindless thief,
the ant will bite the bottom of a low-lying leaf,
and lock in place so it is trapped in mid-bite,
as it advances the designs of this parasite.
Of course, the fungus will also eat the inside
of much of the ant, which by now will have died,
anchoring the ant tighter to the leaf with thread
until the fungus shoots a stalk through its head
that sends out its spores into the tropical air
with propulsive force and tender loving care.
On all sides, other ants also locked in a bite,
will have leaves for shrouds, with a parasite,
each gathered by these reapers of life and mind,
and another reaper that none of us can find.
And the ants will be stuck at just the right spot,
right in heat and moisture, right without thought,
so they can act as a nest, as well as prey,
in life's unchoreographed death-ballet.
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