CCD: A Fly in the Ointment

This is not unprecedented: one organism lays its eggs in or is ingested by another larger creature. The effect of this infiltration is to change the behavior of the host to the benefit of the invader.

One illustration given is “an Amazonian nematode that, once inside an ant, turns the insect’s abdomen the same bright hue as a tasty berry. The ant is eaten by birds, who spread baby nematodes through their poop.”

Blue poop is one thing. But if such a behavioral parasitism could be part of the explanation for Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees, then this newly-described relationship between bees and Apocephalus borealis is of great importance.

When the fly lays its eggs into the abdomen of the honeybee, they get staggering drunk and can’t find their way back to their apartment. The baby flies don’t care and use the bee tissues for food, soon hatch, then fly off and turn more honeybees into zombies.

I have my doubts that this is widespread as a factor that causes honeybees across the world during the last five or so years to leave the hive and not come back, so that the colony collapses. There are a multitude of factors that likely contribute. I’d put my money on pesticides.

But in learning about this, I have had an epiphany of explanation of other bizarre behavior. What if the bizarre altered behavior of a certain groups of humans could be explained by a similar infestation of egg-laying, brain-sucking flies that make their victims believe all manner of conspiratorial myths as if they were true?

What if there is a Cerebral Collapse Disorder? Read about it here, then follow the story on Fox News.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Exciting discovery, Fred! Please keep us tuned in. I got so misled reading your story, for some reason. I thought the link was going to be about your hypothetical Cerebral Collapse disorder! And I also initiallt thought it was the flies that got drunk after laying thier eggs. It’s either Gandy interfering with your usually clear writing, or my brain turned to mush during my recent trip to the desert.

  2. Okay Kathy, I have launched off on one too many metaphor and hyperbole that one jumps immediately to the conclusion that what I seem to be writing about is NOT really what I am writing about.

    I vote for the mush hypothesis. Maybe it was something you came across out there in the desert? I’ve never been to one, personally, but then, I ain’t dead yet.

  3. Carl, I think you might be the only one who “got it” and not sure what that says about you. : > } I expected more of a bump of response here, but zoom it went, under or over my intended audience. Such is blogging in our times.