A Scientist Who Writes Comics About the Secrets of Insect Life

Centuries ago, scientists relied on paintings and illustrations of animals to learn more about their anatomy. Today, that biology-art bond is as strong as ever. This is Carly Tribull, a PhD student studying the evolution of parasitic wasps, who uses her scientific knowledge and artistic talent to create fun… » 1/30/14 6:00pm 1/30/14 6:00pm

Meet the Scientist Who Is Solving the Mystery of Zombie Ants

Throughout the tropical forests of the world, there's a parasitic fungus that turns unwitting ants into "zombies." Just how the fungus is able to control the brains of its insect slaves is unknown, but Charissa de Bekker, a post-doctoral researcher at Penn State University, is determined to find out. We caught up with… » 1/03/14 12:15pm 1/03/14 12:15pm

This experiment changed our understanding of parasite resistance

It's common scientific wisdom that parasite resistance comes from repeated exposure to a parasite. But a new study has turned this idea on its head. Guppies who were removed from rivers swarming with parasites actually evolved an improved parasite tolerance in just a few generations. Here's how it happened. » 11/06/13 1:00pm 11/06/13 1:00pm

Great, the effects of toxoplasma are harder to fix than we thought

Toxoplasma gondii is a brain parasite that makes mice lose their instinctive fear of cats and may lead to schizophrenia in humans. Scientists think that the parasite works by inflaming the brain or by creating cysts. But it now appears that Toxoplasma is doing something far more insidious — and permanent — to the… » 9/18/13 2:00pm 9/18/13 2:00pm

12 Real Parasites That Control the Lives of Their Hosts

Many parasites are satisfied with just living off of their hosts, while others decide their hosts must die. But there are also some parasites who can change their hosts' behavior or physiology in ways fit only for science fiction. Here are 12 parasites who manipulate their hosts in incredible ways. » 3/28/13 10:00am 3/28/13 10:00am

Woman with eye infection had an entire microbial ecosystem in her…

There's a reason why optometrists say you should regularly replenish your contact lens solution and throw out your lenses after the expiry date. Last year, a young woman contracted an eye infection after using tap water to dilute her cleaning solution, and while wearing contact lenses that were two months past their… » 10/17/12 7:05am 10/17/12 7:05am

Why doctors are treating allergies with parasitic worms

Hookworms are ghastly little creatures. Tiny, parasitic, and frighteningly invasive, these wriggling hell-spawn consistently rank among leading causes of morbidity in underdeveloped nations, abound in regions of the world suffering from poor sanitation, and have been described by various epidemiologists as "the… » 8/10/12 11:00am 8/10/12 11:00am

More Evidence that a Common Cat Parasite Could Increase Your Risk of…

Toxoplasmosis, a common parasitic disease that's transmitted through unwashed vegetables and cat feces, has long been suspected of altering human behavior. Though controversial, some scientists have speculated that there's a correlation between the parasite and such things as schizophrenia and suicide. But now… » 7/03/12 10:40am 7/03/12 10:40am

The world’s smallest fly probably decapitates really tiny ants

Some flies, known as phorids, specialise in decapitating ants in a gruesome way. They lay their eggs inside their victims. When the maggots hatch, they move towards the ant's head, where they gorge upon the brain and other tissues. The ant stumbles about in a literally mindless stupor until the connection between its… » 7/02/12 1:05pm 7/02/12 1:05pm

A flower that smells like poop and resembles vagina dentata

The rotten-meat-scented corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) may get all of the mainstream press, what with its flashy blooming parties that attract admirers from all across the globe. But on the botanical weirdness scale, it's easily trumped by Hydnora africana, a parasitic flower found in southern Africa. » 4/17/12 3:10pm 4/17/12 3:10pm

Fishing linked to higher percentage of tongue-eating, blood-drinking…

Isopods are crustaceans (like lobsters). Some isopods are parasitic (like the one staring back at you in the picture up top). If you're having trouble making out what, exactly, this isopod has parasitized, the answer is: a fish. This little monster wriggled its way in through the gills of its host, implanted itself… » 3/02/12 5:00pm 3/02/12 5:00pm