For fans of the AMC show ‘The Walking Dead,’ and everything having to do with zombies, take heart. Zombies really do exist in the natural world, and they’re a terrible menace — to our little friends, the ants.

A danger to the colony

Yes, zombie ants often plague the ant colony. When a parasitic fungus known as an Ophiocordycep infects a member of the species, that particular ant starts to behave erratically. Eventually, the tiny creature climbs to a high position on a plant and clamps down on a leaf or stem with its jaw. Then, the unfortunate ant dies. But that’s not the end of the story…

Back from the dead (sort of)

After the tiny ant expires, fungal sprouts emerge from its head, and grow to a considerable length, before the spores eventually explode, and are spread among the living ants. If this happens, then an entire colony of ants can be wiped out, and turned into ‘zombies.’

Worker ants to the rescue

If a worker ant comes across an infected ant acting all ‘zombie-like,’ the victim is snatched up and dragged far away from the colony and disposed of. This might seem a bit heartless, but the worker is saving other ants from infection.

The zombie apocalypse

So, if you’re one of those dark souls waiting for the zombie apocalypse with bated breath, pay close attention to the little ants. Perhaps spores of a similar ilk might affect humans one day as well. Oh joy.

[Science Daily]