- Bryan W. Alaspa
The world of insects is a generally terrifying place. As the Jeff Goldblum character in The Fly says - it is a basic and brutal place. This is true. There may be debate these days as to whether or not insects or other animals have any kind of emotion, but the fact is most insect species have set orders and duties for each member of the colony or nest to do. They attack other insects for food, raid nests, kill opposing nests and defend nests with a sort of insane brutality.
So, while it seems unlikely that humans who come back from the dead as flesh-eating zombies is unlikely, in the insect world there are insects who have become known as "zombies."
Most of the time, the insect itself becomes infected with a parasite. These fungus and other parasites get inside their hosts (snails, wasps, ants, bees, etc.) and then take control of them. They compel their host to do things the host would not normally do.
For example, the Giant Gliding Ants in Central America live on trees. Sometimes they fall off and when they do, they have developed the ability to glide back to a tree trunk. However, when the parasite infests them, they turn their hind ends a bright red and weaken the exoskeleton around it. They cause the ants to walk with their butts up in the air and then walk in a very slow, shambling, "zombie" walk. The bright red, bulbous, hind end looks just like the berries indigenous birds like to eat, so these birds will pick the ants off and then, when they poop, the parasite will end up on the tree or the floor of the jungle and spread that way.
There is a type of fly that likes to lay eggs inside a wasp. The eggs drive the wasp crazy. The wasp will fly in crazy ways and in erratic patterns. It will no longer search for food and when it walks, it does so in the trademark "zombie" fashion. The eggs then hatch and consume the wasp - from the inside out.
There is a fungus which attacks carpenter ants which causes them to lose their ability to walk on their own. They are then propelled to climb to the top of a leaf, bite down with their powerful jaws and then die. Then a mushroom will grow right out of the top of the ants head, only to spread more spores from that mushroom down on other ants.
So, if there were ever to be something that can turn a person into a zombie, it will likely not be something that reanimates the dead. More than likely it would be a spore or some kind of insect that overrides a person's ability to think and it would, in a sense, take command of that person and cause them to do what the predator wants to achieve some kind of goal.
You see, the things we think of as horror - is all to real if you happen to be an insect.
What if insects, or arachnids, were to become something humans had to fear?
Coming February 23 - my new horror novel S.P.I.D.A.R.
The town of Whittier Alaska is about to see and experience the ultimate horror. When a body washes up near the docks it contains within it a horror that walks on eight legs. A horror that is man made with three purposes:
S.P.I.D.A.R. will be published in print, ebook and audiobook form by Beacon Publishing Group.
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