At the University of Copenhagen, researchers have discovered two fungal species that infect adult flies and create a hole in the abdomen of their hosts' bodies. The fungi actually live inside the flies eating them from within as they move around.The species of fly targeted by the fungi happen to be fly eaters themselves.

The two species, Strongwellsea acerosa and Strongwellsea tigrinae, have been discovered in the Capital Area of Denmark with "S. tigrinae" in Jægerspris and "S. acerosa" in Amager.

"This is an exciting and bizarre aspect of biodiversity that we have discovered in Denmark", says Prof. Jørgen Eilenberg of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences according to EurekAlert. "In and of itself, this mapping of new and unknown biodiversity is valuable. But at the same time, this is basic new knowledge that can serve as a basis for experimental studies of infection pathways and the bioactive substances involved."

Fly
Photo by Gabriel Manlake / Unsplash

Two Danish species of fly infect the fungi (Coenosia tigrina and Coenosia testacea). They create a hole in their infected hosts' abdomen. For several days, flying moves are released from the hole as fungal spores are released and are drifting towards new victims. For instance, if a fly is going by, it risks getting infected. The fungi are fed from the back of the fly's body to their very ends. The fly lies behind it after a few days and spasms its final hours.

These fungi's ability to keep flies fresh as long as they are eaten from within for days has led researchers to speculate that these fungi can create substances that "dope" their hosts. Analysis of other fungi infecting cicadas indicates that drugs similar to amphetamines are involved.