Caterpillars turned into 'exploding zombies' by bug

Evrard Martin
Août 3, 2017

In a latest fascinating discovery, a odd new bug has shocked the scientific community by turning unsuspecting caterpillars into "exploding zombies".

"It's like a zombie horror film", Chris Miller at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, the wildlife charity that oversees the Winmarleigh Moss Nature Reserve, said in a statement. "Later on I saw another one hanging from a tall blade of grass both were dead but otherwise intact".

The remains of several Oak Eggar moth caterpillars - a common variety in the United Kingdom and Europe - have been spotted across the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire. The Wildlife Trust is now transferring butterfly populations from Winmarleigh Moss, a nature reserve, to other parts of the country where certain species are extinct.

Dr. Miller also detected "small scraps of caterpillar skin" on other branches he observed.

"It's pretty gruesome when you think about it". Usually the caterpillars are deep in the moss and undergrowth-away from birds and other predators.

The oak eggar moth caterpillar in Lancashire, England, has been infected by a baculovirus.

An oak eggar moth, the species of caterpillar affected by the baculovirus.

Insects die, and their bodies explode, thereby infecting other arthropods.

It is thought the baculovirus changes the way the host responds to light, encouraging them to climb up to their deaths.

A Wildlife Trust spokesman told The Daily Mirror: "We would ask everyone who sees caterpillars or snails for that matter high up on leaves to report it to us".

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