Tiny flies transform bees into zombies, as they make them stagger just like zombies. The affected honeybees make unusual night flights around porch lights before they die.
They can be found in large numbers on the West Coast, but have also been found in eastern states by volunteers who help at monitoring them. Their help comes as a consequence of the fact that in the last years, honeybees have also been threatened by nutritional deficiencies, pesticides and colony disorder.
“We’re not making a case that this is the doomsday bug for bees, but it is certainly an interesting situation where we have a parasite that seems to affect the behavior of bees,” declared John Hafernik from the San Francisco State University.
In 2012, Hafernik created a project entitled ZomBee Watch, which enabled people to upload photos of different bees they found over the time. In this way, more than 100 zombie bees have been detected.
The fly, entitled Apocephalus borealis is believed to attack bees while they search for food. The fly penetrates the bee’s abdomen, where it lays eggs which make the bee behave in a strange way.
Beekeepers found this kind of bee in 2013, in the East and in Hudson Valley.
The researchers now try to establish if these zombie bees have something to do with the colony collapse disorder. This happens when the adult worker bee disappears. Scientists couldn’t establish yet the causes for colony collapse disorder. Some put the blame on pesticides, while others on habitat loss and mites. At the moment, mites represent a bigger concern for scientists than the zombie fly leeches.
Ramesh Sagili from the Oregon State University states that the tiny flies which make bees behave in a strange manner does not represent a major concern for scientists.
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