‘Flying salt shakers of death,’ sex-crazed zombie cicadas coming
Coming this summer to New Jersey "The attack of the sex-crazed zombie cicadas." No it's not a movie, it's real. They're also known as the "flying salt shakers of death".
What makes these insects so horny? It turns out that during those 13-17 years they spend underground, they're infected with a fungus called Massospora cicadina, which has chemicals similar to hallucinogenic mushrooms.
This fungus, despite causing their genitals and butts to fall right off, makes them so sex-crazed, according to researchers at West Virginia University, that when they emerge from the ground, they try to mate with everything they come in contact with. Sort of like Pepe Le Pew only these characters aren't cancelled. In fact, they oblivious to what's going on. That's where the zombie part comes in.
"They are only zombies in the sense that the fungus is in control of their bodies," said Matt Kasson, assistant professor of forest pathology and one of the study's authors, who told Science Daily in 2019.
Kasson said that within 7-10 days above ground the cicadas lose their abdomen revealing the infection at one end of their body.
"Infected adults maintain or accelerate normal host activity during sporulation, enabling rapid and widespread dispersal prior to host death," Kasson said. "They also engage in hypersexual behaviors."
Since the cicadas are unable to reproduce, they instead spread the fungus when they beat their wings causing air spores to fall leading to the "flying salt shakers of death" nickname given by WVU student Angie Macias.
According to an article in the New York Post, "While fewer than 10 percent are likely to be infected, that will still be a lot given that trillions are expected to emerge across New York and 14 other states." This includes New Jersey.
Now don't get any ideas that you can get the hallucinogenic effect from eating these cicadas, believe it or not, there are students in New Jersey looking forward to dining on them when they get here.
WVU Researcher Brian Lovett told the Washington Post, “The amount of these behavior-modifying chemicals are enough to affect a cicada. But if you were to eat them, it would be such a tiny dose that you wouldn’t be able to feel anything.”
The only thing we'll be feeling from these cicadas is annoyed, or date I say "bugged."
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.