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Fungal Hallucinogens Send Cicadas on Sex Binges After Their Genitals Fall Off


Mike Macrae
In latest gruesome nature news, scientists have discovered new details on a fungus that compels its cicada hosts to mate long after their genitals have gone and their bodies have turned into what one researcher colourfully describes as 'flying salt shakers of death'.

The fungus is called Massospora cicadinaand its effects read like an abstinence campaign for cicadas. But it also appears that it affects the sex-crazed cicadas by sending them on one heck of a drug trip.

A team of researchers from the US has analysed the biochemistry in periodical cicada populations infected with pathogenic fungi, finding evidence of a plant-associated amphetamine and a psychoactive chemical found in magic mushrooms.

Now, this really shouldn't need to be said. But we feel obligated to say it anyway. This is in no way to suggest cicada fungal pox should be considered for your next high.

"These psychoactive compounds were just two of less than 1,000 compounds found in these cicadas," says West Virginia University forest pathologist Matt Kasson.

Published in Fungal Ecology

Volume 41, October 2019, Pages 147-164

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