At first glance it looks like a funny and colorful, very happy snail. Nothing further from reality. The truth is that it’s a dark show worthy of a horror movie. It could be called “The Terrible Zombie Snail”. Their colors move up and down through their antennae. The fault lies with a parasite: Leucochloridium Paradoxum, which uses snails as a host.
The purpose of these parasites is to reach the birds. Mollusks They are just your means of transport to reach the treetops. From there attract the attention of thrushes and blackbirdsin whose rectum they would put larvae. They would then be expelled to re-infect other snails. And so on to infinity.
A National Geographic video explains the process. When the parasite infects the snail, it takes possession of its brain. His body is translucent. The colors that can be seen in the antennae are the usurper that moves in the snail. At that moment he leads the mollusk where the birds can see it. Snails are not birds’ favorite food. But the parasite mimics what the larvae of worms that birds eat would look like. The snail commits suicide on the orders of L. Paradoxum. In the end, he dies from the picks (he rarely survives). The parasite takes shelter in its new home in the bird’s intestine.
It’s not the only case that turns other animals into zombies. There are many examples in nature. The Zatypota wasp turns its neighboring spiders into incubators. Then in transport vehicles and finally in food. With a single kiss. The female wasp lays eggs in the spider’s belly and the larvae hatch. The host binds and feeds on the spider’s hemolymph. Little by little, it takes over your body, including your brain. At that point the spider becomes a “zombie”. Surprisingly, it emerges from the colony and forms a cocoon around the “zombifying” larva. Then it becomes immobile and turns into food. 9-11 days later the spider was eaten. A new wasp appears and the cycle starts all over again.
The terrible zombie snail is just another manifestation that nature can be really cruel. And scarier than a movie.