STATES CHRONICLE – Recently, an increasingly alarming event was brought to the attention of biologist from the US. Zombie bees have been sighted on the West Coast and researchers believe this could very well lead to a food crisis over the next few years, if human population if highly dependent on this type of food source.
The bee population isn’t the only one affected by this new and curious affliction. It seems that bumblebees and paper wasps are starting to display behavior in many parts of the US, including New York, Oregon and South Dakota.
John Hafernik, a biology professor at San Francisco State University said that this strange behavior in bee population has been prompted by a parasitic fly named Apochephalus borealis. These flies allegedly attached themselves on a bee’s body and then lays its eggs inside them.
Bees that have been subjected to this form of parasitic infestation begin to manifest very unusual behavior. Witnesses say that the bees leave the relative safety of their nest, venturing into the wilderness for uncharacteristic night flies. What is even creepier is that they seem to display roughly the same behavior as fireflies.
They tend to seek out brightly illuminated porches where they keep flying around sources of light. After a while, they become tired and disoriented and eventually they fall down and die.
Hafernik was the first biologist to discover this parasitical fly, somewhere in California, in 2008 and to describe the process of how they manage to infest and transform a bee into a zombee. It seems that the fly chooses to lay its eggs inside the body of the host. When the eggs are hatched, emerging larvae come out of the eggs and start to eat its host from the inside out. Hafernik points out that, one of the explanation for the bees’ unusual behavior could be that the first systems affected by the larvae are the muscle and nerve system.
After a few weeks, the larvae reach maturity and begin to claw their way out of the host’s body, splitting its head and thorax in the process.
Professor Hafernik made an appeal to Zoobeewatch in 2012 and asked bee enthusiasts to keep close tabs on bee population and to also send any relevant photos on the case.
The zombie turning flies are considered a big threat yet, but Hafernik warns us that the bee population continues to decline and that we should take measures before this turns in an issue in the future.