Ophiocordyceps: Fungal Puppet Masters

The fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is the Mona Lisa of mind control parasites. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss the latest findings on its insidious ant-hijacking antics -- as well as a few other favorite biological puppet masters.

Monster of the Week: Succubi, Ants & Sperm Theft

What natural-world organism could possibly emulate this infernal breeding plan? What creature outside of Hell would seduce a member of another species, steal its sperm and then use the seed for its own diabolical purposes?

Save the Queen on a Raft Made of Corpses

Yes, imagine a monarchy threatened amid rising flood waters. As her loyal guards, there is nothing left to do but lash a bunch of bodies together and allow her to float free on a raft of bloated child cadavers and gasping, half-drowned guardsmen. It might be the stuff of nightmare to us humans (Or fantasy. Not judgements). But for ants, it's just how you ride out flood waters.

Crazy Ants Invade, Crave Electrical Juice

Crazy ants drive out the fire ants, but is that a good thing?

Leaf-cutter Ants and the Future of Space Agriculture

An ancient race has come to dominate a single agricultural crop, one in which they've invested everything to sustain their massive population. They're one vicious blight away from starvation, but at this point there's no returning to the source. Their precious crop is a million years extinct in the natural world and there's no going home. It sounds like an ideal plight for a futuristic generation ship, adrift among the stars with a belly full of space crops, but this is of course the story of the leaf-cutter ant.

Will there ever come a day when all humans live in peace, with every child born into a united brotherhood of man? Well, keep writing folk songs, hippie, because we're still killing each other. Meanwhile, colonies of Argentine ants around the globe are gathered around tiny campfires singing Kumbaya.. The ants are known for building massive super colonies (consisting of colonies sometimes hundreds of miles apart), and according to BBC News, these may be part of a worldwide mega-colony. You can take members of the larger super colonies in Europe, Japan and the United States, place them among another colony an ocean away and they'll all get along swimmingly. There's no territorial angst, they just jump in and help. They seem to identify the same chemical signals and are, essentially, members of the same widespread community, rivaling only that of humans.