Guys, there is an alarming zombie virus that turns caterpillars into zombies when their sick friends explode into goo that touches their skin. Seriously.
The deadly virus affects the Oak Eggar moth, and makes them change its natural instinct to hide away from sunlight. Moreover, the virus makes them want to climb up to the top of plants, something that was just unnatural for them.
The sunlight simply kills them and their bodies liquify, bursting open to infect more caterpillars. I know, too many details but this really is something that should worry us.
A 100-Year-Old Virus?
Wildlife expert Dr Chris Miller said: “It’s like a zombie horror film. It’s pretty gruesome when you think about it. It is really unusual seeing caterpillars high up as they can be eaten by birds. This is a caterpillar of the Oak Eggar moth, which eats heather and bilberry, so it is normally hidden in the undergrowth, not at the top of plants.”
Miller also notes that the remains of Oak Eggar moth caterpillars have been spotted in the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire. What’s really weird is that the first time scientists ever noticed the effect on the caterpillars was 100 years ago, but the way the virus controls the grub was recently identified by scientists in the US.
The reason we call it a zombie virus is because caterpillars do not just explode but also change their habits when affected. Dr Jim Slavicek, from Penn State University, Pennsylvania, USA, said: “Who knew that a virus could change the behavior of its host? Maybe this is why we go to work when we have a cold.”
Who knew that a virus on caterpillars would make us wonder about human viruses, I may add.
The fact that these tiny little guys explode into goo might sound funny to you but truth is that it is not. A Wildlife Trust spokesman said:
“We would ask everyone who sees caterpillars, or snails for that matter, high up on leaves to report it to us. People should remain vigilant and look out for them.”