Parasite Transforms Ants Into ''Berries''

Parasite Transforms Ants Into ''Berries''
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Cephalotes atratus ants are common in the tropical forest canopy in Central and Latin America. If knocked off a branch, they can glide toward the tree trunk, grab hold, and climb back up.

The ants eat seed-rich bird feces. Sometimes the poop also contains the eggs of a parasitic nematode that lays eggs in the ants' gaster - the bulbous rear end segment of its abdomen.

Infected gasters turn red, resembling a berry ripe for the picking by an unsuspecting bird. Researchers believe the bizarre life cycle allows the parasite to move from one ant colony to another.

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