A YouTube video, which looks like a scene out of a sci-fi movie, apparently shows an extremely creepy parasite vacating the body of a dead praying mantis.
Before we even attempt to describe what happens in this video, watch it for yourself below:
If so, and it seems to be right, what you are about to read is arguably more horrific than what you just saw. Nematomorph hairworms don’t just colonize the belly of their hosts, they take over their brains as well. The hairworm makes grasshoppers jump into water – fatal for the grasshopper but a great move for the parasite as they need water to reproduce.
Such worms can grow to two meters long, although 50cm-1meter is more common. The adults live freely in water, but the larvae are parasitic on various insects and crustaceans. They are known to tie themselves in knots, leading to the nickname Gordian worms.
Although Nematomorpha don’t infest mammals that doesn’t mean you are off the hook nightmare-wise. Their capacity to control the brains of their victims has added support to the theory that Toxoplasma gondii, a single celled protozoa that reproduces in the intestines of cats may make those its hosts more reckless, possibly including humans.
It wasn’t entirely clear why the person filming the video decided to kill the praying mantis — but hopefully he or she realized that it was infested by the terrifying creature.
The video has already been viewed over 200,000 times as of Monday afternoon.
However, some YouTube users were not convinced that the video was real. A few users cited the way the creature moved as well as the camera work as evidence that the video could be a fake.
“Looks fake, [what’s] up with the camera angles and just the over look. Either he has the worst camera phone ever or this is just a lame sfx attempt. And why isnt the anyone saying anything? If this was me I would screaming and yelling,” one user wrote.
There are similar videos of parasites leaving the bodies of insects on YouTube, including this scary one involving a cricket: